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CIA Awards panellists talk about the changes that need to be made in a post-pandemic work world

As we move into a post-pandemic era of work, workspaces have to be revolutionized digitally and culturally for hybrid work to properly succeed, said panellists at the Channel Innovation Awards.

During the 2022 Channel Innovation Awards panel “ The Channel… Post-Pandemic”, Mark Collins, chief executive officer of F2 Factor, Heidi Hauver, vice president of people experience at Shiny Docs, and moderator Bill Steed, vice president of Ingram Micro Canada discussed the new work dynamic for businesses in the Channel.

Digital equality

After working remotely for the past two years, companies have started to introduce hybrid work plans. However, with hybrid work, it’s easy for remote workers to feel excluded or fall behind.

“Everyone needs to be able to work together effectively no matter where they are. If a portion of the workforce is going into the office, we can’t create a class society where they have the ‘front row seats at the concert,’ and then the people that are connecting remotely are living in the ‘cheap seats’ because they’re not able to interact as effectively,” Collins said during the panel.

To stop this from happening, companies need to focus on creating good collaboration strategies.

“We need to be innovative and iterative, and keep things changing,” Hauver said. “One thing I’ve noted over the last two years is what worked in the first six months, didn’t work the next six months.”

During the panel, she highlighted how important it is to engage teams in discussions, and gauge ideas to see what works best for employees, especially during the switch to a hybrid work environment.

In addition, Collins suggested digital solutions such as immersive video rooms so people who are not in the office have an equal opportunity to participate in meetings.

A cultural shift

Apart from physical changes in the workplaces, like new technologies, a cultural shift to retain employees, especially in the midst of a talent shortage and The Great Resignation, is important.

The remote work world has opened up and normalized conversations for prioritizing mental health and wellness in working environments.

“We’ve got very comfortable in the last two years. We’re talking about mental health in this conversation, would we have three years ago?” Hauver said.

A good salary doesn’t always cut it anymore for employees. Prioritizing work-life balance and mental health support is becoming more and more essential in the office.

“I don’t think employees any longer will see it as a privilege or an upside to working for an employer that cares for their mental health… I think that’s a bare minimum,” Collins said.

Hauver added that workers have more choices now, meaning they will look for organizations where they can bring their most “authentic selves” to the workplace.

Remote work opens up more opportunities

Speaking on The Great Resignation and the increasing digital skills shortage, Collins said that remote work has made it easier to switch jobs and get a new one, as well as offering increased job opportunities, since everything is done virtually, opening the space for talent globally.

“For a long time, we’ve focused on talent…where we knew we could drive to visit them and shake their hand. But we now live in a world where if we can access their talents and apply their talents to our business, it’s probably less worrisome where they are [located],” he said.

When returning to in-person work, and recruiting new people in a hybrid environment, Hauver said there will be those who are looking forward to in-office work and travel, and some who may be hesitant to even apply for jobs that don’t offer remote options.

“Some people are going to be very keen to get back at it. Others are going to immediately remove themselves from the hiring process and won’t even apply. I think that flexibility, and maybe a staggered approach, would probably be what I would recommend to companies if they’re looking to get their folks back in the field,” she said.

In addition, when discussing adaption and change in the pandemic, Collins noted that there are no rules about innovation.

“You don’t have to wait to innovate,” he said. “There’s a brighter future in front of us.”