Hybrid Working – Future of Work

With restrictions lifting and vaccination rollouts generating optimism, many companies are looking to get back to “normal”. But what is normal? What should companies really be considering as we start to emerge from our home offices and zoom meetings? How can HR effectively contribute to this new phase of what it means to work? An Ipsos survey for the World Economic Forum among 12,500 employed people in 29 countries found that a majority want flexible working to become the norm. And almost a third (30%) said they would consider looking for another job if they were forced to go back to the office full time. This represents a change in mindset with which employers should respond to.

A change in mindset.

What the pandemic has achieved for employees and employers is a change in mindset from ‘presenteeism’ to ‘productivity’. Moving away from an office-based 5 day week and large costly offices, to smaller team-based approaches heightens employee satisfaction. There are a few variations of hybrid models bandied around. The first being “at-will”. At will empowers the employees to choose days they wish to work from the office. Secondly a “split week” model, this model balances the time in the office with remote working.  Regardless of how you envisage your hybrid model to work in practice; the % shift to more flexible ways of working is here and looks to be a permanent change. Nine out of 10 organizations will be combining remote and on-site working, according to a new McKinsey survey made in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. Successful remote working has created a sense of trust, recognised individual commitment and effort, increased accountability and for many allowed for a greater work-life balance.

What can HR do to support business goals?

Leaders need support, in managing away from the office, pre-conceived notions such as ‘people are easier to manage in the same room”. It’s up to HR to develop and understand how such notions, do not become ingrained in leaders’ approaches. The focus must be on the contributions and work that is required and not on the channel, that work actualised.

Businesses need to define the purpose of physical workspace. How can employees and teams be encouraged to own and use the space in a way which works for them? A physical workspace is important as a change of environment, team collaborations, celebrating achievements and reflective learning and development. This shouldn’t be a directive that comes from HR but something which is owned by everyone.

The right people can be found.

Recognising talent is no longer constrained by travel times and geography. The right people can now be found, hired and start working from anywhere in a fraction of the time. People are making deliberate choices as to what they want from their employers and the future of work.  Great hires have been made during the last 18 months which have not been prohibited by not coming into the office every day. We need to remain open to accommodating remote employees and proactively create opportunities for untapped talent. For hybrid working to be successful it needs to be supported by equitable practices.

How people experts can help?

Hybrid work is still fraught with drawbacks and potential failings. A failed hybrid working strategy is not just a HR issue. Leaders need to be aware of maintaining company culture and continued productivity. The benefits of remote-working should not necessarily replace the benefits of the office. Striking a balance will attract and retain the best talent that drives innovation, resilience, improves client satisfaction and increases profitability. What people experts can help you with is avoiding the pitfalls, while exploring and solidifying the potential of hybrid-working models.