In a recent SmartCompany webinar, Sharon Williams, founder and CEO of Taurus Marketing, led a very informative discussion on how to handle changing workplace dynamics post-COVID.
One of her panellists, Daniel Kniaz, founder and CEO of DiviPay, had a number of particularly compelling insights to share regarding hybrid work. Here, he lays out the challenges SMEs may face when going hybrid and how to overcome them.
What are the main challenges of hybrid work?
Overall, the shift to hybrid and remote work has been a huge net positive for business owners and employees, Kniaz says. But, as with any sudden change that is thrust upon us, there will be challenges to work through.
These fall into three core areas:
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- Siloing. The office kitchen used to be a meeting place for team members from every department, but “now it’s a lot easier for developers to only talk to developers, and finance to only speak with finance,” Kniaz says.
- More burnout. People are probably more susceptible to burnout in a hybrid world due to feelings of isolation and stress, Kniaz believes. Younger people navigating the workforce for the first time might be the most at risk.
- Changing relationship between employee and employer. SMEs need to pivot and adapt their processes and workflows to accommodate remote work. Kniaz suggests that whilst the technology might be there to solve problems, we may not have even identified what the problem is in the first place.
What problems is my business facing?
Before you can identify what tools you need to leverage you need to first identify what problem your business is facing. Typically, these fall into three buckets.
- Cultural connection. This is particularly important for less experienced or new members of your team. Online communication tools like Slack make friendly, informal check-ins quick and easy, which can help improve culture and tackle feelings of isolation. You could even set up dedicated channels for team members to share what they did on the weekend, post about food and movies, or otherwise get to know each other outside a work context. But to really create a sense of community, business owners need to take the first steps and set the tone in these conversations, Kniaz says. They have to feel organic.
- The sharing of knowledge and information. Digital conversations often mean conversations are one to one rather than one to many. Uploading important information to the company drive means it can be instantly disseminated to every employee.
- The financial infrastructure of your business needs to be examined. You might not realise but a lot of your business might rely on shared credit cards. If you are sharing credit card details digitally you are exposing your business to fraudulent activity. We spend a lot of time researching the flow of money within businesses at DiviPay, says Kniaz. It seems many businesses owners are trapped between not trusting employees with credit cards due to the risk of internal fraud, yet allow credit card sharing which exposes the business to both internal and external fraud. The fix is a corporate card which has inbuilt spend management protections, limitations on how much the employee can spend, where they can spend it and on what..
Making sure no employee is left behind
Whether or not your business is on board yet, hybrid working is here to stay, Kniaz says. Your ability to attract top talent will increasingly hinge on it.
On the plus side, moving to hybrid and remote-first work expands your talent pool enormously. But with more people working from home, business leaders will need to consciously work at creating and maintaining a healthy, happy and productive workplace culture.
Most important will be keeping track of your employees’ mental health, especially now you’re not seeing them every day.
“Managers and leaders have to be really intentional with the human side of things and ensure that they carve out time to genuinely ask people how they’re going,” Kniaz says. “Because you do miss all those cues that you would normally get.
“And in this environment, it’s so easy to jump between Zoom meetings from 9am to 5pm all day and not get up from your desk, and you become consumed by work. So I think it’s important to actually have those one-on-ones in the diary where you’re asking people, ‘How are you? What do you need?’”
DiviPay is an all-in-one virtual business card and expense management platform that enables finance teams to better manage, control and streamline spending across their organisation. Founded by Daniel Kniaz and Russell Martin, DiviPay’s easy-to-use web and mobile app comes with instant virtual expense cards, bill pay, card controls and budgeting, a real-time transaction feed, automated expense reports, powerful accounting integrations, subscription spending management and exclusive rewards.