With COVID-19 becoming more stable and controlled, companies and businesses have started to grapple with the idea of hybrid work. The release and increased uptake of vaccination have also massively facilitated the transition from working strictly from home to a hybrid model of working,
Hybrid work, a relatively new phenomenon, is a drastic departure from the traditional work model. Prior to COVID-19, it was mandatory for all white-collared workers to head to the office daily during their workdays. However, with the onset of COVID-19, there has been an increase in uptake of hybrid work, combining working from home and the office.
A survey done by Microsoft Corp (Microsoft) has highlighted that 73% of their workers surveyed want hybrid work arrangements to continue. The survey also found that 66% of business owners and office space owners are considering redesigning office spaces to accommodate hybrid work environments.
But why is this new work arrangement here to stay? Why wouldn’t we go back to the traditional work model that has been here for generations?
Let us explore the model of hybrid work and break down its benefits before explaining the reasons for its stay!
What is hybrid work?
Generally, it refers to a mixture of home-based and office-based work arrangements.
For generations, work arrangements have always been the same—going to the office from 9-5. However, businesses around the world have been in transition into alternative work arrangements since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Companies and businesses went from having physical office spaces with all employees to a remote working environment with employees worldwide only seeing each other through the screen.
However, as the pandemic restrictions ease up, companies are beginning to adopt hybrid work arrangements, where employees split their time between home and the office. An example of such a work arrangement is when companies allow employees to choose and decide which days they want to working from home or the office.
In other cases, other companies arrange and decide when employees are to come into the office or work from home. In some companies, it may even be compulsory for all employees to return to work full-time on-site.
Remote work does not necessarily equate to working from home. Employees can choose to work from a nearby cafe, their neighbourhood coworking space or even work from their client’s office.
No matter where employees work from, the traditional office space is no longer the central area of work. Traditional offices now serve as a place for employees to collaborate when they need to.
Why did hybrid work start?
Hybrid work arrangements became the new norm quite immediately after the COVID-19 outbreak. While it did not occur at the exact timing globally, the majority of the countries around the world have adopted this working arrangement.
Unable to return to the office as mandated by governments around the globe, employees began the process of transitioning their homes into their offices.
As COVID-19 eased up in certain countries, restrictions were lifted, and offices began opening up and welcoming their employees back. This form of work arrangement has then stuck with us.
Benefits of hybrid work
Hybrid work is here to stay as it has brought about many benefits, both to employees and employers.
Increase in productivity
In the traditional model of work, employees are expected to be “on the clock” between 9 am to 5 pm. While this has proven to be productive and effective, hybrid work arrangements enable employees more flexibility to get work done when they are the most productive.
For instance, some employees work better early in the morning while some others prefer to work in the evening or at night. Besides the stipulated timings for meetings, employees are able to work at the timing where they are the most productive.
For many employees, this hybrid work arrangement gives them fewer distractions, less noise and more hours to complete their work.
Better work-life balance
Another benefit of being able to choose to work in the office or home is a better work-life balance. Previously when employees were mandated to work in the office from 9 am to 5 pm; many of them had to spend at least 30 minutes travelling to their offices.
Further, some of them may be required to work overtime, causing them to return to their homes later than intended. The later employees leave the office, the more likely they are to meet traffic congestion whether they are taking public transport or driving home.
However, it is easier for employees to find the balance between work and their personal lives with hybrid work. This happens when employees have more autonomy to choose when they want to work from home and the office.
On days when employees choose to work from home, they can take some time off to run errands, pick up their children from childcare or just lunch with their loved ones. There will be less commute with hybrid work arrangements, meaning more personal time for employees and improved mental health.
Hire talent across the globe
Besides benefitting the employees, hybrid work arrangements can also help employers. With this work model, companies will be able to hire people from across the globe. Since remote work is highly encouraged, companies can hire from a wider pool of talent.
With a broader pool of talent, companies can hire people with specialised skills, which can help give businesses a competitive edge.
Another benefit for businesses is that they can save costs on office spaces. With hybrid work arrangements, employees will not be coming to the office as often. With fewer employees going to the office on a daily basis, businesses can consider forgoing their office space entirely.
By doing so, they can save on amenities, rent and meet sustainability goals as well. In the case where companies still need office space, they can consider renting a space or hot-desking at a co-working space.
Prevalence of hybrid work
Hybrid work has been taken up by more companies than we think! Companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Square have long announced their plans to give employees the choice to work from home indefinitely.
Further, desk booking software and applications have been booming given the increased uptake of hot desking arrangements in the office. As such, hybrid work is anticipated to stay even after COVID-19 as it is also expected that smaller and newer startups follow suit in this arrangement.
COVID-19 has severely impacted the way we work. From traditional work arrangements of going to the office daily, to remote work from home; to a combination of both, hybrid work is definitely here to stay.
However, this is not to say that office spaces will become redundant. Office spaces will most likely be transformed into a collaborative and cooperative space, support teamwork and project-based collaboration.