The Importance of Dynamic Personas in your Hybrid Work Strategy
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Nearly all companies and governmental agencies have navigated the reopening of offices and have formalized their return-to-work policies and matured their hybrid work model.
What we've learned from our customers and partners since 2021 is that each leader has a slightly different take on what the post-pandemic workplace should look like.
Apple, for example, required employees to work in the office three days a week while JPMorgan Chase adopted a differentiated approach with half of its employees working in-person, 40 percent adopting a hybrid schedule and 10 percent remaining fully remote. Early in 2023, Forbes called out "the Great Mismatch" in which 50 percent of leaders say their company is requiring employees to return to the office full time, while 87% of Americans insist on the flexibility to work on-site and virtually, based on their choice and team schedule.
Now that we're settling in with supporting frontline, fully remote and hybrid employees, many organizations we work with are now focused on rationalizing, streamlining and optimizing their IT and facilities technology.
Setting policy and streamlining technology to support the entirety of your employee population starts with understanding your workforce. Many organizations do this by developing traditional workforce personas that group employees by job role and department. For example, your organization might have a field sales persona, a marketing persona and an engineering persona. From there, you decide field sales is remote, engineering returns to the office and marketing is hybrid.
At WWT, we take personas a few steps further. We encourage organizations to develop dynamic personas that consider where employees fall within the organization, and also layer multiple static and evolving attributes to inform and streamline how organizations support their workforce.
In this article, we'll explore dynamic personas and how they can help bring harmony and momentum across business units to optimize employee experience and support your workforce strategy.
Dynamic personas are groupings of employees aligned to business objectives that share common characteristics, services and requirements.
Dynamic personas utilize:
- Job descriptions
- Geographic location
- Work style and hours
- Employee interviews
- Historical IT data
- Institutional knowledge
- Security requirements
- Mobility requirements
- Applications and licensing
- Support needs
Based on these factors and requirements, organizations can create an aligned, overarching set of criteria that includes employees' needs, organizational objectives and technology requirements. These requirements are mapped to specific groups, and even to individual employees, to create a dynamic picture of who needs what services and where.
After evaluating the results, this information is typically combined with facilities data, such as floor plans and building capacities. By integrating all this valuable data, organizations can create strategic and purposeful hybrid work policies.
During the pandemic, we learned some job roles are better suited for remote work than others. For example, individual contributors and sales-focused roles often benefit from remote work, while creative or highly collaborative roles — marketing, design, R&D, engineering — tend to perform better with in-person, ad-hoc interaction. The "water cooler" example may sound outdated, but these types of interactions foster creative thinking.
By developing dynamic personas, leaders can quickly identify who is best suited for remote work versus office-based work based on their daily workflows and processes rather than their job title.
Dynamic personas can also serve as a valuable framework for helping leaders prioritize investments in office spaces and hybrid work technologies. If an organization decides that most of its personas will work a hybrid schedule, for example, then it might decide to invest in video conferencing solutions for meeting rooms and rethink its wireless network to support faster connectivity speeds in the office.
After identifying which personas will work from the office, organizations must focus on how these changes will impact the physical and digital employee experience.
Having completed the upfront work required to develop personas, organizations will have a deep understanding of how employees work and will be poised to make the right technology and office decisions to empower their workforce.
Many organizations with hybrid work models are eliminating assigned seating to add flexibility and reduce unused space due to employees filtering in and out of the office on a daily basis.
When working from the office, employees will likely need to modify their past routines to comply with office hoteling and hot desking policies. Teams will likely schedule office-based work so most of the team is in the office together to foster creative, ad-hoc conversations.
Prior to the pandemic, organizations were already exploring more collaborative room types. Now, new routines and work styles will require Facilities departments to evaluate whether their current conference rooms will suffice or if additional spaces, such as huddle spaces, phone booths, pods and offices, are required.
Obeya or Team rooms allow for more casual meeting spaces that often have movable furniture and large whiteboards or markable walls. These settings encourage idea sharing and foster creative conversations while allowing employees to focus on specific tasks.
Most employees are familiar users of video conferencing and expect the same experience when they return to the office. In a hybrid work model, nearly every meeting — Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams — will include one or more remote participants, meaning every conference room needs to support video. https://www.wwt.com/product/microsoft-teams
Organizations must also prioritize video conferencing interoperability so employees can easily join any type of meeting from any device or conference room with the simple push of a button.
Without a framework for decision making, developing a hybrid work strategy can be overwhelming. Dynamic personas can help ensure your organization is making informed and consistent decisions about how your workforce will be distributed and providing the necessary support to employees for hybrid and remote work.
If you're unsure how to get started or need help developing your dynamic personas, request our dynamic persona assessment.
During this assessment, our experts will meet with your IT and line-of-business leaders to build alignment, merge institutional knowledge with data and map individual employees to specific requirements while recommending future improvements to the employee experience.