As the Great Workplace Reset continues, leaders and managers are discovering that the old ‘hard power’ techniques of carrot and stick no longer hold quite the same sway with their employees.
Instead, faced with a highly-distributed workforce demanding hybrid working conditions and a strong focus on wellbeing and ethics, they are opting to use ‘soft power’ options instead.
So what exactly is soft power?
It’s a more holistic way to lead and incentivise your workplace, and rests on four pillars that can all be supported using good workplace management technology. They are:
- Growing confidence
- Building autonomy
- Supporting competence
- Creating belonging
1. Growing confidence
Uncertainty at work is a drain on emotional health and energy – for instance, being called for an unscheduled meeting with a manager, or finding it impossible to secure a good collaborative space to work for the day, can make work seem more difficult and stressful than it should be.
Good engagement is the secret to minimising uncertainty and building confidence in your workforce. Workplace management software encourages your employees to engage easily with each other and with their managers.
For instance, it makes it simple and admin-free for people to schedule hybrid meetings, book desks or meeting rooms via an app.
It even helps them find colleagues they need to work with (something that’s become less straightforward in the hybrid environment than when everyone was in the same building all the time.
2. Building autonomy
Empowering your staff to control where and how they do their work has been shown to give them a pleasing sense of independence and control over their workload. Employee experience is important – recent research from LinkedIn shows that the number of people searching for remote jobs still outstrips the supply of positions available.
3. Supporting competence
You’d hope everyone wants to do their job well, and removing the obstacles that prevent them getting on with work is a huge help. For instance, it’s convenient and efficient to use a colleague search facility on your mobile and make sure team members are in the office at the same time as you.
The data captured by workspace scheduling software such as Rendezvous by NFS, integrated with related technology including sensors, supports good decisions by workplace leaders looking to match workspace better to the way it’s being used.
It’s a win-win – sustainable use of available space is a key driver for many organisations and their environmentally-aware staff. Recent figures from property agent JLL show eco-friendly offices are achieving ‘markedly higher’ capital and rental values.
4. Creating belonging
Feeling that you are a valued member of the team is essential to good job satisfaction and mental health at work. In addition, it improves talent retention in your organisation and makes your business well-known as a great place to work.
Face to face remains an essential part the Great Workplace Reset, but because it’s for a more limited time than previously, you need to make sure that every minute of every visit to the office really counts.
By building your hybrid working strategy on technology that enables improved scheduling of meetings and better visitor management, you minimise wasted time. That means there’s plenty of scope for what Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, recently called the “spontaneous stuff” – innovation and creativity.
Faster, smarter, happier
The way we work is continuing to change around the world, although it’s true that the adjustment is not a straightforward progression.
For example, some delegates at the Davos World Economic Forum have pushed back against remote working, and the global economic downturn is causing others to predict workers may lose their current upper hand.
But workers are extremely serious about maintaining some level of working from home, with research showing that UK and US employees particularly keen to hold onto the benefits they find in it. The growth of ‘soft power’, together with the support provided by technology, is still putting the wind beneath the wings of the distributed workforce model.
It means most employers are increasingly building their future on hybrid working, with its green credentials, real estate enhancement and benefits for wellbeing. The road may not be fully mapped out yet – but those who venture forward fully loaded with the right technology are the most likely to prosper.