If there’s one thing organizations have learned from the last year, it’s that some things can’t just “go back to normal”. While the concept of remote work wasn’t new in 2020, its uptake amongst organizations was accelerated. It demanded unprecedented agility and flexibility from companies trying to adapt to the new workflow dynamic while also navigating a crisis. A year on and organizations have seen a shift in employee expectations with flexibility becoming a top priority.

This is exactly where, in the past, digital solutions have come to bridge a gap in the organizational network. Spanning across industries, new software has been introduced to help both large and small enterprises stand up to new challenges.

Hilton Grand Vacations Club in Orlando, Florida, is one such example of a business that has had to navigate a number of challenges over the last year. While its operations were suspended indefinitely, the hotel looked at ways in which technology could better enable its operations and turned to Microsoft Teams to improve internal and external connectivity, and keep staff inspired and better connected. As it slowly started to open its doors to guests again, Hilton Grand Vacations Club had found new ways to keep its team of frontline workers, including security, cleaning, maintenance, front desk and others connected throughout all its operations. The hotel staff not only interacts more efficiently, but even uses the platform to increase team member engagement, and learn better practices from the chain’s national network of connected employees.

Nurture over nature

Throughout 2020, companies had to constantly reconfigure their approach towards employee experience. The hybrid workflow has proven more than just doable, but a tool that the most innovative companies can use to their advantage. According to Microsoft, enterprises should reduce the amount of importance placed on efficiency, and rather focus human productivity towards ingenuity, creativity, and innovation.

The transition to hybrid work highlighted the ‘nature vs. nurture’ aspect of corporate challenge and solution. Leaving employees to the “nature” of remote work creates siloed teams who can become increasingly disconnected and disruptive to workflow (and not in a good way). Rather, companies should look to the “nurture” side of a hybrid environment; improving networking channels, developing new collaboration tools, and putting the employee at the center, all facilitate a flexible and inclusive environment for both company and employee to thrive.

This is a big reason that companies look to leverage new and innovative technologies to help improve employee wellbeing. Microsoft, understanding the potential of hybrid work, launched Microsoft Viva, an AI-powered employee experience platform (EXP) that empowers teams and the individuals that make them to be the best they can be.

Accessed through Teams, Microsoft Viva is a great example of a digital solution encompassing the full spectrum of employee experience. From sharing professional knowledge and insight to forming new relationships and establishing stronger communities, these types of virtual engagement solutions help employees feel included, inspired, and important on their journey alongside their employer, who benefits from smarter (data-backed) and more aligned teams. Since remote work became the new normal, Microsoft reports that close to 60% of people feel less connected to their teams, while almost 70% of employees have experienced an increase in stress levels, with 40% reporting a decrease in mental health. Add all this to the lack of allocated time set for learning new skills, and employees desperately need support.

This is where Microsoft Viva excels, in creating an atmosphere for employees to thrive, whether they are at the office, at home, or anywhere else they need to be.