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With work from home rules ever evolving, remote work has left employees around the world feeling invisible. Research from Adaptavist reveals that a whopping 71% of global workers feel invisible to their colleagues on digital platforms.

With COVID-19 variants the new norm, a hybrid workforce looks to remain and organisations are forced to make more decisions about their working structures. These feelings of invisibility in the workforce must be considered.

Here are actions CEOs can take to navigate HR amid this hybrid landscape:

1. Be empathetic to feelings of invisibility

A CEO may never know which of their employees is feeling like no one sees or hears them, but she or he must accept that a percentage of the workforce is feeling quite invisible. Whether everyone is able to go back to the office or not, this is something that must be addressed with change and opportunity for interaction. Don’t expect 100% of work time or Zoom time or Slack time to be all about work to make up for “lost time”. Make sure people have the opportunity to engage and build relationships with some kind of digital interaction that can replace water cooler conversations and coffee catch-ups. Gather input from your people and create opportunities to socialise and team-build with teammates and leaders, both remotely and when people are in the office.  

2. Be open to understanding what people need from work  

Retaining employees can’t be all about what’s good for the business. And lots of research has shown over the years that it’s not just about remuneration. Over the course of the pandemic many people’s priorities have changed, and it’s important to understand that to inform employee engagement. The Digital Etiquette Study by Adaptavist tells us nearly one in every five global office workers says management is out of touch with the way work and productivity have changed, and they want to be asked for their feedback on that matter. 

You may find that there are some trends, such as a greater need for a separation between work time and personal time when both are happening in the same place. But one size won’t fit all, so be prepared to negotiate individual and team agreements that balance the needs of the organisation and stakeholders with those of individual employees.

3. Find out how your employees prefer to collaborate 

The top three things employees missed most about the pre-Covid work environment are:

  • Working side by side with their team (31%)
  • Chance meetings with colleagues they don’t work with directly for social reasons (23%)
  • The ability to celebrate success / special events and give and receive recognition (20%)

“What this year’s Digital Etiquette Study clearly demonstrates is that while hybrid working is the way forward, there is still work to be done to maximise the opportunities that hybrid working can bring to both employees and businesses alike,” says Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO of Adaptavist.

The answer is to ask your employees how they prefer to collaborate. Then design a work environment that makes the most of face-to-face and remote work hours.

4. Check in with employees about the tools they use

Something’s not right, when this latest research shows that 58% of employees report spending 30 minutes or more every day looking for information they need to do their jobs, such as searching emails or chat conversations. Almost half said their organisations have too many tools and too much double up, with multiple tools performing the same function. 

So many tools, and yet people still want more. Or, to be more precise, they still want better. When asked what they need most from the business, the top response (35%) was better tools, software, and hardware to do required tasks. 

Whether your people prefer being in the office or would rather work at home, the reality is the old model of the majority of work being done in the office will never come back. 

The research tells us that one in every five global office workers want to be asked for feedback on the tools used for work. So ask! Their feedback is critical to getting it right.

5. “Productivity” needs an overhaul

A productivity overhaul has been a long time coming, but the pandemic proved that productivity isn’t about hours worked, or about completing a 9-5 workday every day. No one knows this more than your employees, who have lived and breathed it for two years. One hallmark of the great resignation is that people are not willing to continue working for companies that do not demonstrate this understanding. 

Not everyone dissatisfied with a lack of change or empathy for the impacts of the pandemic on work and productivity will immediately resign, but we can expect to see a wave of employees striving to negotiate their work hours, KPIs and contracts accordingly. That’s not far off in the “future” of work. It’s already happening. In the “now” of work, the best managers and leaders will hold people accountable for productivity and performance by measuring outcomes rather than inputs, tasks or time at the desk.


2021: Digital Etiquette Report, Adaptavist:

Additional Note

4,454 workers that operate in office-based industries and departments from the US (c. 1,600), UK (c. 1,600) Canada (c. 600) and Australia (c. 600) were surveyed for Adaptavist’s 2021 Digital Etiquette study. The survey audience spans part-time employees to c-suite level executives and owners across industries. The research included a breakdown of the various ages of workers: 41% of respondents were 23-38 years old; 39% between 39-54; 19% between 55-74; and 1% were 75 years or older.

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