We have been shifting to hybrid work for more than a year now and the way how we define the role of work in our lives has changed drastically. The question is whether the hybrid phenomenon is just a step in-between toward full-time work, or an unprecedented new reality here to stay.
Hybrid work – what is behind the new phenomenon
The post-pandemic era has been dictating new rules and conditions for businesses all around the world to accommodate the modern workplace. Technologies are developing at an unprecedented fast-pacing rate to guarantee a secure connection between employees, and empower collaboration and engagement to deliver boosting results. The aftermath of COVID-19 has transformed the level of readiness to adapt to any abrupt world vulnerable challenges. If amid the initial stages of the pandemic companies barely understood how to apply IT (Information Technology) assets to working from a home environment, now consultants all around the globe can reach out to you if there is a need to improve your online experience.
Hybrid work is a new phenomenon resulting from world recovery after massive COVID-19 hit waves. It combines both ways of working online and offline, with a new culture of providing employees with a modern office experience with flexible remote hours. The evolution of a hybrid workplace follows the needs of business executives to empower their employees to stay productive. Interestingly, most of them have welcomed the upsides of working from the kitchen table. Now, bearing in mind the last two years of isolation and lack of communication, leaders globally consider it by adding value to maintaining social culture, and cooperation…
The five trends & challenges
Currently, there are different approaches to perceiving new hybrid work culture. The shift from a solely home-based environment to a slow yet evolving office returning has provided questions leveraging uncertainty. To bring transparency from the societal perspective, various research is being conducted to see and analyze if employees’ attitudes match the hybrid model expectations. For example, this March Microsoft released a 2022 Work Trend Index – a study of 31,000 people from 31 countries, including an analysis of trillions of productivity signals in Microsoft 365. The report features five appearing trends that leaders are to address or risk if not taken into consideration:
- Employees have a new “worth it” equation.
- Managers feel wedged between leadership and employee expectations
- Leaders need to make the office worth the commute
- Flexible work does not have to mean always on
- Rebuilding social capital looks different in a hybrid world
Achieving the work-life balance
The trends mentioned are to be recognized as challenges for both employees and leaders which require time – to adapt, and action – to deliver a new workplace culture. The changing process is driven by new social realities: priorities have switched from sole job orientation to well-being, and mental health in the first place. Hit by the pandemic unprecedently, employees strive to put their preferences upfront alongside producing even better results working remotely. Last year, Microsoft, with more than 180,000 employees worldwide, surveyed to evaluate the pros and cons of both work from home and hybrid shifting. According to the data, 77% of employees confirmed that their productivity has not changed since the pandemic outbreak. Moreover, 59% of the workers said it is possible to achieve the work-life balance by working solely from home, as opposed to 12% explaining the same reason from the office.
In the post-pandemic reality, many employees have, indeed, realized the upsides of flexible working – and the work itself has been driven by better results. Within the geographical dimension, recent research has been conducted to analyze the Canadian market attitude towards hybrids. It tells the following: during the ongoing pandemic recovery, 84% of employees enjoy a prominent level of flexibility, opposite to 61% who worked in the workplace exclusively felt no difference. Another noticeable insight highlights that out of the 49,000 working Canadians asked – 88% stressed that it was easy to maintain a balance between both personal and working commitments nine-to-five.
Managers to carry a new crucial role
As employees get more digitalized, they tend to question returning to the office – the purpose of commuting in-person, if technologies have been successfully filling in the gaps related to lack of stable connection, communication misunderstanding, and not guaranteed seamless workflow. According to the Work Trend Index presented by Microsoft, more than a third (38%) of employees who agreeably switched to hybrid say that their biggest challenge – to find out when and why to come into the office.
And now the future success of any company relies on finding novel ways to maintain this balance.
According to Jared Sparato, CVP at Microsoft, to enable the growth of business in a long-term perspective, managers need to adapt to employees’ expectations enabling them to work in a secure, flexible, priorities-driven environment. After two years of pressure, anxiety, and uncertainty, hybrid work or a full-time office regime – both are seen by managers worldwide as a solution to bridge the gaps. Given this, the role of managers has become more responsive to address the needs of both sides – strive for employees to stay productive, motivated, and resilient. But what about leaders, how should they respond to the recent changes?
Building social inclusion – a path to a solution
The hybrid future has introduced a new shaping of managers’ approach to work. Their responsibilities have changed and shifted. To drive better employee performance, leaders would need to delegate more powers to middle managers while they are introducing new workflow habits. As Microsoft highlighted, 97% of employees who have touched on their preferable working regime with their manager say their manager supports their desired work style. The insight from this number directs us to one simple, yet substantial message: managers have been allocated a new space to improve the functionality of the employees, empowering them to bring valuable results to the company’s success. And the human component is set at the core.
The new hybrid landscape has been promoting social inclusion as one of the ways to mitigate any potential misunderstandings and miscommunication. Therefore, face the challenges leaving the employees unheard, lonely, and missing out from the community engagement. Embedding more practices to develop listening- private conversations, periodic hybrid meetings, coaching, and mentoring will be beneficial for any business’s spiritual growth.
To summarize, the new hybrid reality has been outlining both positive and negative effects. The challenges are here to stay, as the phenomenon proactively cultivates in a fast-developing technology environment worldwide. Realizing the impacts, organizations of all sizes will remain focused on elaborating new strategies with efforts to secure a flexible working environment along with prioritizing human well-being. The last two years have become a great learning experience to understand one thing for sure: the future we live in and continue to work in is uncertain. Time has changed, and we have immensely turned into a fully digital generation. To stay up-to-date, technology has become a great asset to help people communicate, cooperate, and do business even from different parts of the world. Being able to develop digital dexterity, constantly educate about IT tools and applications, and upskilling software management – can be handy and result to operate effectively in a newly introduced business model.
With this said, VNEXT iQ has extensive experience enabling hybrids work for different industries such as Healthcare, Law Firms, Municipalities, and others. Reach out to our professionals if you need guidance or partner support here.