Hybrid Working And How it Will be the New Normal
Isn’t it intriguing to see how a crisis can change people’s perspectives on the issues that develop as a result of it? A very recent example is a large-scale social experiment in hybrid working due to the pandemic. This has certainly created a debate across companies about what this means for working conditions in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
For example, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan believe that work is best done in the office (or at a client’s office), and their CEOs have requested that employees should return to their offices. Additionally, as per a recent Accenture survey, over 80% of financial services executives want their employees back in the office. Once offices open in the coming months, India Inc wants to adopt a long-term or permanent hybrid working style, since prolonged remote working has begun to take a toll on staff due to blurring of work-life boundaries and rising fatigue levels. According to a recent poll conducted by Economic Times, 35-60 percent of the white-collar workforce is working on plans to implement permanent hybrid working – when employees go to the office some days and work remotely the rest of the time.
Employer and employee expectations on hybrid working appear to be out of whack, possibly more so in some industries than others.
Who stands to gain the most from the hybrid working?
Many ‘field workers’ never had the opportunity to work from home during the pandemic. And the debate concerning the concept of hybrid working being only applicable to specific categories of workers- remains a pertinent question?
According to the latest Labour Force Survey and Business Insights Survey, the highest paid, better qualified, higher-skilled, and those located in bigger cities and the metros had the most opportunities to work from home. Hybrid working can be viewed as a wealthy person’s problem, and the ability to do so further highlights labor market inequities.
What Kind Of Flexible Working Arrangement Should You Use?
For several years, working from home as a kind of Flexi-working has been at 4.5 percent of the workforce, up from 1.7 percent in 1981. After the epidemic, this increased to 43 percent in April 2020 but dropped to 36 percent once lock-down was lifted in Nov-Dec 2020.
Everyone is wondering whether a hybrid of 3 days in the office and 2 days at home or 2 days in the office and 3 days at home will work.
Senior leadership perspectives are significant while we debate on the pros and cons of hybrid working and how it will shape the future workforce. Many industry leaders on one side of the debate feel that allowing more people to work from home will hinder collaboration, creativity, and, perhaps most intriguingly, the “apprenticeship” model. On the other hand, several senior leaders believe that hot-desking in a smaller office and co-working in shared office spaces saves money while still allowing teams to collaborate in person and hold on-site customer meetings.
This paradigm of employee control has been firmly embedded, and removing it could jeopardize the company’s business model.
Hybrid Is The Way Of The Future
The modern office was built with productivity in mind. The Covid-19 pandemic, on the other hand, caused a significant change away from this idea. Almost overnight, production was pushed aside in favor of safety. In what was the greatest experiment in working from home in human history, cubicles and cabins gave place to kitchen tables and bedrooms as corporations closed their offices to safeguard their staff.
However, even as workplaces prepare to reopen, the pandemic is far from over. Many people are still unvaccinated. People, such as the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future, if not permanently.
The post-pandemic workplace will be defined by increased worker protection driven by hybrid workforce models that accommodate both the physical and digital worlds.
Technology Has The Potential To Facilitate Transformation
Flexible work alternatives in a hybrid workplace will allow some employees to continue working remotely while others might choose to work in the office or commute between the two.
In addition, the post-Covid office will need to be renovated with safety and hygiene in mind. These are unquestionably significant developments. But, just as technology allowed the world to function despite physical limitations, it now provides companies with the tools they need to make the shift to a hybrid future.
To ensure the success of hybrid work schemes, a range of options needs to be considered. The greatest problem in the digital workplace is the human impact. Building new relationships, improving work culture, and providing workspace improvements in response to changing people’s wants are all part of this process. To embrace efficient, intuitive, and secure digital tools, a new work environment will demand the implementation of the appropriate infrastructure and technology. The office redesign will necessitate the creation of new physical and virtual collaboration zones, including VR, AR, and MR-enabled zones, and the implementation of integrated workplace management platforms and effective desktop solutions.
Collaboration And Productivity
The obligation of guaranteeing openness comes with having a distributed staff. Business software helps teams to keep track of their schedules and reservations in one spot. This promotes better collaboration among coworkers and allows them to manage their calendars to maximize the few days they do come to work.
It could have been tempting to imagine that digital transformation was years distant before 2020. This fallacy has been debunked by the Covid-19 epidemic. As businesses reopen offices, they must find a way to strike a balance between the digital world and the physical world.
Investing in one’s business during a recession, according to history, ensures that it will thrive when the tide turns. This is clearly such a time. And as quotes by President Theodore Roosevelt- “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing,”- There is no better time to act than now.
Organizations will need to go digital to grow in this future work model. Employees need to be kept at the core of the future-focused strategy with technology moving at a rapid pace and scaled-up innovation. Companies that are already using these value drivers are going to prove themselves more robust and adapting while incorporating new work culture and beyond.