we're still all working from home
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Organizational leaders only really had to answer one big question over the past year in terms of employee experience: whether to let workers stay and home and work remotely, or whether to bring them back into the physical workplace.

Employee experience of course includes many more aspects that we have discussed over the years, but with the pandemic and the change in work practices, where employees worked became the hot potato of 2021.

Everything fed into this. The development and deployment of most technology over the year was all done with either remote working or hybrid workplaces in mind. Human resources played a key role in shaping the new experiences at all employee interfaces, while the ability to employee the right workers was also determined by what kind of experience organizations could offer, or more simply put, whether they could/would allow employees to work from home.

While much of this discussion was theoretical for a large part of the year, as vaccinations become more widely adopted and COVID-19 management improves, enterprise leaders now have to develop hybrid working strategies as working from home will remain a key element in the digital workplace.

While we expect this discussion to carry over well into 2022, it clearly was a major sticking point in 2021 as evidenced by the Top 1O employee experience articles on CMSWire over the past 12 months. Here are those articles:

10. Another Merger in the Employee Communications Applications Market?

More big news in the communications tech industry last week with Dynamic Signal and SocialChorus announcing their merger. Having been part of and following the burgeoning “employee communications applications (ECA)” market since the beginning, I was excited to see more activity in the area. At the same time, I scratched my head trying to work out what this transaction means for internal communications (IC) professionals looking to use technology to be more effective and efficient in their work.

9. Microsoft Viva Marks Next Step for Employee Apps But Challenges Remain

Microsoft's launch of Microsoft Viva on Feb. 4 marks a new chapter in the company's employee applications strategy, one which builds on its increasingly dominant position in employee productivity and collaboration with Teams to embrace the burgeoning field of employee experience. Viva combines tools to support employee engagement and well-being, learning and knowledge management, as well as experience analytics, all delivered through Microsoft Teams.

8. Employee Appreciation Day Is March 5: How Will You Celebrate?

The past year has been a challenge for many business leaders as they've tried to maintain employee experience while balancing everything else that 2020 brought with it. And for many businesses, employees have felt the shift. Strengthening your employee experience isn’t complicated. Like most anything else in business, it’s about consistently executing on the little things. As this year continues to unfold, now is a great time to refocus on your employees and what they need to thrive in your business.

7. A Strategic Framework for Digital Employee Experience

 As focus is shifting to the hybrid workplace, there's a growing recognition that businesses need to put more effort into delivering productive digital experiences for the workforce. Digital employee experience (DEX) is relatively new as a concept, which can make it challenging to know where to start. What elements do you need? What are your organization's strengths and what gaps need to be filled to ensure DEX is both successful and sustainable?

6. Is Hybrid Work Really About Convincing Employees to Return to Office?

The numbers are well-documented: employees are leaving their jobs at the highest level in 20 years. And employees are speaking up about company’s hybrid work plans — and not quite favorably in some cases. Microsoft reports 40 percent of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer this year. So why not get it right then? Of course, there likely is no right answer for a hybrid work plan that will satisfy 100 percent of your employee base.

5. Lack of Social Interaction Tops Remote Work Challenges

Without a doubt, 2020 was a challenging year for employees. Widespread and sustained remote working forced many to learn and embrace new ways of working, bringing disruptive and rapid change. As businesses now prepare the strategies to help them emerge from the pandemic on a confident and stable footing, the voice of the employee is more pivotal than ever. Every year, my firm CCS Insight surveys employees about their attitudes to technology in the workplace and perceptions of big technology trends.

4. Microsoft Viva Debuts, An Employee Experience Platform for the Hybrid Workplace

The adage "when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" is certainly the case for enterprise collaboration. Collaboration product vendors often claim their products do it all, but the reality is collaboration comes in many forms and so far, one size fits none.

3. Forget Customer Experience. Forget Employee Experience. Enter Total Experience

As technologies develop and change, so too does the vocabulary that describes them. Analyst firms, such as Gartner, have played a big part in changing the way we discuss these technologies, the best example being the way enterprise content management became content services.

2. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Salesforce Lead the Charge Back to the Workplace

Remote work has been a "thing" for a long time. While the numbers of people working remotely soared over the course of the past year, many companies were already putting the pieces of a remote strategy in place long before that. The offer of remote working had also become a strong recruitment tool. At the beginning of 2019, for example, a survey of U.S. knowledge workers by Intermedia showed that one in four workers said they would not take a job that does not offer tools that enable remote working.

1. The Vaccine Mandate Arrives Soon. Are You Ready?

The U.S. federal government vaccine mandate is rolling out soon, according to industry experts. That means private companies with 100 or more employees will either have to require employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or produce a weekly negative COVID-19 test. And like most digital workplace efforts, it’s going to take clear communication and sound technology practices for vaccine and testing program management.