Frictionless working: How to thrive in the new, blended world of work

It has been a year of unprecedented challenges on both a personal and business level. To thrive in times of uncertainty and change, it is key to stay flexible — what worked a few months ago might not work today or tomorrow. This is particularly true for the way we work. Most businesses were forced to adopt a full work-from-home model in March 2020.

Now that we are preparing to return to the office in a managed and safe manner, the key question is whether we will return to working in-office every day, or will we leverage the lessons learned over the past year and embrace a more balanced and blended work life?

There have been some remarkable changes in our ways of working during the pandemic. Enforced home working and strict health and safety measures led to the rapid adoption of digital tools and processes in a way that we could not have imagined before COVID-19. These changes are a testament to our adaptability and resilience — but after a year in crisis mode, the cracks are beginning to show.

Stress, pandemic fatigue and burnouts are on the rise, as a result of the additional workload caused — for instance — by managing home-schooling responsibilities or working a relentless 12+ hour day in front of a computer. While many companies have reported an increase in employee productivity, this might be driven by people working more hours in fear of losing their job.

Surveys of employees working from home during the pandemic showed that most enjoyed the flexibility and improved work-life balance, provided they had access to a suitable workspace and the digital tools to carry out their job. However, what they missed the most was the face-to-face (social) interaction and collaboration with colleagues, networking, chance encounters at the watercooler, and the company culture which is very tangible in a physical office environment.

The blended work model

Remote working will become more permanent, as the pandemic has demonstrated the need for a flexible organization that can rapidly adapt its way of working to ensure business continuity. However, very few companies will adopt a full work-from-home approach. Instead, most organizations will opt for a blended work model – embracing a flexible approach to in-office versus remote work.
The new blended model will support employee safety and wellbeing while working remotely, in addition to offering the benefits of a physical office to network, brainstorm and meet.

Blended work approach (BW): A mix of technology and face-to-face task deliverables. It combines traditional physical presence set up with online working, and employees have some control over the time, pace, and place of their work.

Frictionless working

For a blended model to be successful, frictionless working is the key. “Frictionless” means smooth, effortless, without any difficulty. When we apply this to work, it means the ability to work seamlessly from anywhere, anytime on any device. The digital processes that enable this interact so smoothly that they become invisible, leaving employees to focus on the task at hand without being hindered by technology issues. Not only will it enhance productivity and a great employee experience, but it will also open the door to entirely new ways of working.

Frictionless working is human-centric by design

Frictionless working makes communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing so much easier — and therefore, much more engaging and effective. Enabling personal interactions through a blended online and on-site experience will not only optimize teamwork but will also drive creativity and innovation — essential ingredients for a sustainable, successful business!

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About Marianne Hewlett
Senior Vice President and member of the Scientific Community
Marianne Hewlett is a Senior Vice President at Atos and a seasoned marketeer and communications expert. Passionate about connecting people, technology and business, she is a member of the Atos Scientific Community where she explores the Future of Work and the impact of technology on individuals, organizations and society. She is a strong ambassador for diversity and inclusivity – and particularly encourages female talent to pursue a career in IT – as she believes a diverse and happy workforce is a key driver for business success. As an ambassador for the company’s global transformation program Wellbeing@work, she explores new technologies and ways of working that address the needs of current and future generations of employees. A storyteller at heart, she writes about the human side of business and technology and posts include insights into the future of work, the science of happiness, and how wellbeing and diversity can drive success.

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