The Future of Work is Remote & Hybrid

“All signs indicate that hybrid is fast becoming a new expectation of the workforce. How will employers respond to this?"

Written by

Sigrid Kenmuir

“All signs indicate that hybrid is fast becoming a new expectation of the workforce. The next chapter of this great global work experiment will be written by how employers respond to the opportunities and challenges afforded by two years of learning to work differently.” – Gallup

With the rise and ubiquity of the internet, the nature and landscape of work have been changing rapidly over the past decade. Whereas ten years ago most workers were primarily office-based, today there has been an enormous shift to remote and hybrid – partly remote, partly in-office – work.

What does this mean for the future of work? 

Well, we imagine that it will be more of the same. In a recent Forbes article, the CEO of DeskTime (a time-tracking app) crunched the numbers and determined that workers experienced the most productivity in a hybrid working environment. A combination of in-office time for team collaboration and interaction combined with remote work, allowing for deep focus and single-tasking, seems to be the most productive combination, beating fully remote or fully office-based work.

But at what cost?

According to Gallup, less than 10% of those polled preferred working fully in the office, while nearly 60% of people chose the hybrid model over either fully remote or fully office-based. However, remote employees report working longer hours in order to be more productive. Additionally, increased productivity for remote workers also comes at the expense of the social aspects of work with more employees reporting “loneliness and poorer work-life balance as the top challenges they grapple with.”

How will the next generation of workers adapt?

Today’s high school and college students are in the unique position of having experienced the best (and sometimes worst) of the remote working environment. They’ve attended classes, taken exams, and even socialized online since well before the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns changed the world. 

Gen Z – those born between the late 1990s and 2010s, who are some of the youngest in today’s workforce – report mixed feelings about their work-life balance since the pandemic. One study by Microsoft indicated that 60% of Gen Z are struggling, whereas a MetLife study (both studies linked in this article) indicated that over half of those polled had better work-life balance.

How will the workplace adapt?

We’ve all heard of the “Great Resignation” – a term coined in 2021 to describe the sheer volume of people leaving their jobs. One of the key reasons cited for resigning was an insistence on returning to pre-pandemic, office-based work culture. Remote-capable employees are determined to maintain their remote and hybrid lifestyles and are willing to change jobs to achieve this.

Remote and hybrid working is also a great way for businesses to hire far more diverse employees since physical location is no longer the barrier it once was. If there is a skills shortage in a business’s immediate area, they are able to expand the hiring net to national or even global employees thanks to remote work.

What does the road ahead look like?

There’s no clear answer for this, except that it’s likely to be subject to change. The cadence of in-person and remote work will vary from business to business and even per team. The team’s ability to work together remotely, how interdependent they are on each other, and how each individual personality engages with the working model will affect how each person’s working week will look. For example, sales teams often lean towards working in the same location as they gain energy from working together towards a common goal. Operations teams often don’t have the option to work anywhere but onsite, whereas marketing or finance are departments that thrive remotely. 

The key is to ensure that you know how you work best and that you find a company and a team that allows you to work in a way that allows you to thrive, no matter how that looks. One thing’s for sure: as a society, we don’t want to go back to a fully in-person, fully office-based setup, and we won’t be bullied into it.

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