Why leaders should consider varying work styles before investing in tech

man sitting facing monitor
man sitting facing monitor
Photo by Simon Abrams on Unsplash

With EOFY fast approaching, now is the time that businesses will be investing in new office equipment, as well as upgrading some of those COVID-19 panic purchases.

After a year of working remotely, we’ve learned that the new constant of work is the employees, plus the access and devices they use to get their jobs done. The place where they do their work is now the variable. We’ve also learned that when it comes to having a remote or hybrid workforce, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, new Poly research into knowledge workers in eight countries has identified six key workstyle personas that make up most businesses.

These Personas represent critical and actionable information about employees in a typical enterprise. They all have unique preferences when it comes to where they work, how they work, and what kind of technology best suits their needs. While the pandemic has led to a rapid growth in conference calls and videoconferencing, from 42% daily use of video pre-COVID to 63% during COVID, some personas are still reluctant to use conferencing technology and it may not suit every workstyle.

The six personas identified are:

  • Office Communicator – office-based, limited collaboration needs
  • Office Collaborator – office-based
  • Remote Collaborator – home-based
  • Flexible Worker – multiple locations
  • Road Warrior – on-the-go
  • Connected Executive – multiple locations

Different personas, different tech needs

What’s interesting is that people working in the same location may still have very different tech needs and usage. An Office Collaborator will use a headset twice as much as an Office Communicator (67% vs 33%) and use video over three times as much (50% vs 13%). The Collaborator doesn’t need a desk phone, but they do need an instant messaging app.

The Road Warrior also uses video far less than the home-based Remote Collaborator (37% vs 54%), and mobile devices are their lifeline, whereas the Remote Collaborator’s primary device is more likely to be a PC. But Road Warriors also reported lower technology savviness than most other types of workers.

The Connected Executive is most reliant on communication technology. With the highest headset (81%) and video usage (76%) of all the personas, they are regularly juggling between mobiles, tablets and PCs, using traditional phone calls as well as text messaging and in-person meetings.

Geographic workforce differences

The proportion of personas varies significantly across different geographies. In Australia, workers are most likely to be Office Collaborators, with fewer non-office-based staff than most other nations. This may be partly due to the lower impact that COVID has had in Australia, with fewer lockdowns.

India which also has a very high proportion of Office Collaborators (34%) as well as by far the highest number of Connected Executives (24%), has very few Road Warriors (2%). Whereas Germany has twice as many road warriors (12%) as any other nation, but along with France, the lowest number of Connected Executives (6%).

The need for individualised solutions

Mapping these personas is important as companies consider the future structure of their workforce and the technology they intend to invest in. Matching workstyles to devices and technologies increases productivity as well as the ease of mobility and transitions for workers moving between two or more locations.

As more businesses permanently adopt hybrid working models, optimising productivity through collaboration will be a major focus. This will affect everything from the kinds of devices and equipment purchased to the size and layout of offices. With distributed teams needing to collaborate through voice and video, open plan offices won’t be the best fit. Instead, there will be more huddle rooms as well as new digital collaboration and teleconferencing tools.

The research we’ve carried out shows that one size really doesn’t fit all when it comes to equipping tomorrow’s workforce. People need individualised solutions to suit their specific needs, with personalisation of application settings, interfaces and other capabilities. It’s also likely that many people will switch between different workstyle personas throughout their careers and taking a flexible and adaptable approach to technology is key.

By Andy Hurt, Poly

This article was first published by Dynamic Business