Digital headquarters, the key to the future of hybrid remote work

Article sponsored by Slack

With the epidemic, the organization of work has changed. What are the keys to business success in this context? According to 73% of employees*, it was the flexibility put in place, both in terms of locations and working hours, that enabled their companies to ride out of this crisis. They are no less numerous in the belief that this is also due to the adoption of new collaborative tools. At least 82% of working youth praise the virtues of digital headquarters!

Face-to-face, hybrid, or fully working remotely, the question is now for companies and their managers to find the most effective way to bring teams together and improve collaboration. With a digital headquarters, Slack provides a space that allows for seamless and efficient collaborative work, without denying the human dimension. It makes it possible to respond to the desires of flexibility and asynchronous work of employees and companies to retain their talent. In fact, nearly one in five employees has already changed their job due to a lack of flexibility. And two out of five plan to do so for this reason!

Humanization of communication

Working well together in a digital headquarters also means creating connections, creating rituals and spaces for coexistence and informal exchanges, and fostering a sense of belonging. Slack conducted research using OpinionWay* to understand how behaviors and attitudes have changed in the workplace. With a special focus on the use of emoji in a digital environment which gives more space to written messages. 75% of employees use it in their professional exchanges. They humanize communication, enhance closeness between colleagues thanks to the most honest and warm exchanges.

Adapt to Digital HQ

To adapt to new behaviors and the challenges of the post-pandemic world of work, a digital headquarters is essential according to Gabriel Frasconi. Slack’s general manager in France provides his analysis and advice in this podcast.

What does the world of work look like after Covid?

Gabriel Frasconi: With Future Forum, we conduct quarterly surveys to gauge the pulse of the labor market. Thus, at the moment, more than 94% of employees say they want to take advantage of flexible working hours, while 79% of them want to take advantage of flexibility with respect to where they work. Post-pandemic figures show that in more than a third of employees who return face-to-face, the stress rate is three times higher than the rate of employees taking advantage of flexible working conditions (the freedom to work in the office or remotely). Hybrid work is the new standard to meet employees’ increasing expectations for work-life balance.

What are the main challenges companies face in adapting to this hybrid organization?

Gabriel Frasconi: The first challenge is the struggle for talent. At Slack in France last year we had to hire a lot and I faced questions I had never asked before about the balance between personal and professional life.

For a business owner, it’s a real opportunity to recruit differently and look for profiles that would have drawn us less into the face-to-face business world. Like, say, an introverted collaborator in a business job who would have found it difficult to work in the entire face-to-face world of work.

Does this new organization take more into account the human dimension?

Gabriel Frasconi: In the face-to-face world of work, we tend to recruit clones. This means that the profiles are similar to those already employed in the company. We are now more oriented towards personality and the uniqueness of the profile that allows everyone to express themselves.

You’ve decided, with Slack, to become the corporate digital headquarters. What is a digital headquarters and how does it work?

Gabriel Fraconi: In March 2020, we all switched to fully remote work and reproduced the same face-to-face work methods. What was quickly accomplished in the office became much slower in terms of distance. So we had to reinvent everything.

The process that used to be manual should become fully automated. Par exemple, chez Aircall, une licorne française qui développe un outil de téléphonie d’entreprise dans le cloud, un bot Slack crée une alerte en cas de défaillance détectée sur l’utilisation de leur comp les produit, must do. Furthermore, when Cityscoot has problems using their scooters, it creates live alerts in Slack. This is what Digital Headquarters is all about: streamlining business processes, in order to make work simpler, more enjoyable and more productive.

So, in your opinion, is it necessary for a company to create a digital headquarters?

Gabriel Frasconi: This is the result of hybridization work. We need to rethink the way employees work together. The way we sell, service, the way we hire has changed. Digital headquarters is a priority for the overall management of all businesses. This is our strong vision and conviction.

In this organization, does the physical office still exist and how should it be thought of?

Gabriel Frasconi: The physical office is complementary to the digital office. Before we went to the office in a place where conviviality prevailed and it was the nerve center of work. Now we go to the office “Not working”. We go to the office to communicate with colleagues, meet people who, in one way or another, are useful to my work, to work on medium and long-term projects. In fact, we no longer go to the office to do the same things we do at home. What’s the point of going to the office to be in Zoom meetings all day? It does not make sense!

At Slack and Salesforce, we’ve redesigned our physical offices to focus on customers with, for example, one floor dedicated to the retail and distribution sector and another to the finance and insurance sector. Thus, it allows all the people within the company who work in retail and distribution to come together. We find ourselves sitting with people from marketing, pre-sales and professional services…people who are not a direct part of our teams but who are important to the efficiency of our work and our understanding of key issues in our markets.

Finally, an office is so much more than just a workplace?

Gabriel Fraconi: This is where I have to collaborate and meet people. That famous coffee machine discussion where, in five minutes’ time, we’ll be approaching a topic that we wouldn’t have approached or dealt with a little bit from a distance. Recreating this camaraderie, this social bond between employees and between departments that makes work more flexible is today the main challenge of the office.

In this new environment, what skills should a good manager possess?

Gabriel Frasconi: We need to show more transparency, trust and benevolence. In Slack, individual interaction is much more organized. Establishing a feedback culture. Not every six months with an employee performance review, but almost weekly to provide transparency about what you do as a manager and the work your employees do.

Blablacar is a good example of these new management methods. The company has moved from time management to managing using the OKR method, objectives and key results. Employees are only evaluated on the basis of predetermined objectives. This requires more organized management, which requires documenting these processes and developing a clear and realistic roadmap that fully engages the manager and his collaborators.

Today, companies must ask themselves: Are my managers fit to handle this major transformation, are they showing transparency, trust, more humanity and openness in the way they evaluate and train their teams? This is one of the basic questions they should ask themselves.

* Slack poll, June 2022

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