The Future of Work Trends Part 1: Hybrid Work

This is the first article in a series: Future of Work Trends.

Do you remember how you used to work before Covid-19? The way companies approach business now compared to a year and a half ago has changed drastically. The traditional thinking of the workplace is a distant memory, the lines of work and home are blurred.

Remote Working from Home

Remote Work is Likely to Continue

The most obvious impact of Covid-19 on the labor force is the increase in employees working remotely. A recent Gartner poll showed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least until the end of the year 2021.

Why is remote work so appealing? Its benefits are numerous: a better work-life balance, greater ability to focus with fewer distractions, more time for family and friends, saved commuting time, and higher levels of motivation. Consider:

  • 81% of workers say they would be more loyal to their employer if they had flexible work options.
  • 48% of employees with flexible work options say their work-life balance is excellent or very good. (FlexJobs, 2020)

During the pandemic, transitioning to remote work was a necessity, 80% of companies want to continue with some form of remote work post-pandemic (Gartner, 2020). Whereas 47% will allow employees to work from home full-time, most of the companies are now implementing frameworks for remote work to be able to anticipate needs, to be able to protect data, and employees wherever they are and to make sure collaboration is protected in the long-term. Companies benefit from savings on office space, higher levels of employee job satisfaction, and reduced absence rates. Employers may even save on payroll, as 27% of workers are willing to take a 10% to 20% pay cut to work remotely (FlexJobs, 2020).

Remote Work is Not a Silver Bullet

Remote work offers many benefits, but one of the biggest struggles is the inability to “unplug.” The lack of structure that the office environment provides has negative effects, like not talking daily breaks anymore. Not to mention the incessant video calls. Some activities may also lose some effectiveness when done remotely, such as onboarding new employees, brainstorming sessions, negotiations, or providing sensitive feedback.

Cultural differences must not be underestimated either. For instance, according to a 2020 Slack survey, employees in Japan are twice as likely to say that their job cannot be done remotely at all, to an extent that working from home has considerably lowered their productivity.

Hybrid Work: The Employer-Employee Compromise

The hybrid model allows flexible remote work options mainly based on trust and empowerment, enabling people to choose where they feel they would be most productive and engaged, combining in person time with teams and remote work. Many studies have shown that those who had a hybrid work model during Covid-19 had better mental health and stronger work relationships. They also experienced less burnout than those who worked entirely onsite or entirely remotely.In the light of the above, it’s not surprising that 72% of the global knowledge workers would prefer a hybrid arrangement that combines the home and the office.

To put it simply, extreme flexibility and hybrid work will define the post-pandemic workplace.

The Challenges of a Hybrid Work Model

Hybrid working will require a significant culture shift and establishing new ways of working. More than ever, organizations will need to help people be productive anywhere. Enormous challenges represent opportunities.

1. Finding a balance between connectivity and digital exhaustion

Technology plays a critical role in hybrid working. Companies will keep investing in the right tools and software, both for staff and leadership, to ensure that employees can collaborate efficiently from different locations. In 2020, 54% of remote workers felt overworked, and 39% felt exhausted. Addressing Digital exhaustion must be a priority for organizations providing a hybrid workplace. Companies will have to consider how to reduce employee workloads and allow people to have more schedule flexibility. Embracing a balance of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration tools might be part of the answer.

2. Develop new skills, for managers and employees

Organizations will put learning and development in place for managers to ensure effective communication, performance management, and collaboration in hybrid teams. To be productive anywhere, employees will need to increase their digital skills with all of the technologies that enable hybrid working: cloud computing, cyber security, virtual reality, digital collaboration tools.

3. Rebuild and rethink social capital and spaces

Since people have been away from the office, social ties are more difficult to build. Company culture may be deteriorating too. Leaders need to be intentional about encouraging people to build regular social and human connections to maintain positive cultures and support employee engagement.

On that matter, LumApps has implemented a “Coffee Talk” community to help with social connection. Physical office space must be compelling enough to attract workers to commute in and include a mix of collaboration and focus areas. Meeting rooms will need to evolve to ensure all voices are heard. But office space no longer stops at the office: companies must consider how to equip all workers whether they’re working from home, the manufacturing floor, or on the go.

As companies reopen offices, they must find ways to balance the physical and the digital worlds. Some employees are more efficient when working from home. Some need physical interaction for collaboration and better communication. Organizations must reinvent the employee experience for the era of hybrid work.

Connecting employees with the tools, people, and information they need to get the job done is a major challenge of the hybrid workplace. LumApps’ mission is to make this transition easier, allowing every employee experience to be personal, productive, and rewarding. Our 3E framework (Engagement, Enablement, Empowerment) perfectly serves the hybrid workplace, by supporting each employee’s unique journey with an individually tailored experience.

Author

Alexandre Prot
UX Researcher

Category

Collaboration Employee Engagement Employee Experience Remote Working

Published on

October 25, 2021