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The evolving hybrid workplace

- By Dwaipayan, 21 July 2021 | 5 MIN READ


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The early days of the COVID-19 outbreak were strange and chaotic times for workplaces around the world. Almost overnight, millions of people found themselves working from home. The initially held assumptions were that remote work would hinder productivity. However, with time, remote work turned out to be the norm of the day - lawyers, financial planners, doctors, therapists—all transitioned successfully.

By early summer, 2021 restrictions started to ease in many places of the world, the attention shifted to bringing people back into the workplace. Employers found themselves at crossroads, the pandemic forever changed us – so they began to appease employees while balancing business and production targets.

This set the stage for the birth of a new workplace model – The Hybrid model.

About Hybrid workplace?

In simple words, the hybrid workplace is a business model that combines remote work with office work.

The advantage of hybrid work includes increased freedom and autonomy around when to work, and where. This offer employees the opportunity to fit work around their lives, rather than structuring fixed hours logged into an office. It’s a win-win scenario for many employees (and employers) as it blends autonomy with sociability and structure.

Working around a hybrid approach delivers the optimal balance of productive work with reduced stress and less commuting.

What do employees want?

According to a study by Boston Consulting Group reveals 75 percent of employees who transitioned to or continued remote during COVID-19, are as good as productive in performing their individual tasks as they were before the outbreak. And about half report that they are at least as productive on collaborative tasks performed in conference rooms.

In a study of 3,500 workers worldwide, 81 percent of participants said they used public transit to commute to work fuelling some anxiety about a return to office.

The good thing about the hybrid workplace model

The model prioritizes the employee and offers a stronger work-life balance. It additionally helps ease anxiety employees may have relating to resuming to a public workspace, and those noted above relating to public transit.  One of the biggest benefits is that organisations can have a diverse pool of employees to work with and are not stipulated to certain geographical locations.

Organizations offering a combination of in-person and remote employees will also have a larger talent pool to work with, as they will no longer be confined to hiring employees in specific geographical regions.

Moreover, a hybrid workplace can help build a crisis resilient culture by making organizations for future lockdown proof.

The bad thing about the hybrid workplace model

Critics point out, the hybrid workplace model isn’t without its shortcomings. Not all of us have quality internet access, defined home workspaces, or distraction-free environments. And obviously, frontline workers do not have the luxury for remote working facilities like many employed by hospitals, factories, and law enforcement.

There is also concern those employees ‘seen’ in the office will be viewed as providing greater output. Remote employees may feel passed up for opportunities because they are less visible than those who return to the office. This could be especially problematic if leadership are the ones present in the office. In other words, the physical office should not hold more power than a remote office.

Such scenarios highlight the importance of a robust hybrid workplace plan. If not properly executed, a hybrid workplace could create a divide between those who work in the office and those who don’t.

The pandemic in some way has empowered us to re-imagine the workplace and the opportunities around it. To create a hybrid workplace to be rewarding, it must be well planned and executed, and not to considered as a novel experiment.

The hybrid workplace may seem like an answer to a temporary problem and an effective solution for the future of work.

 

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