Are hybrid workplaces here to stay? Here’s what the research says

15 May 2023 Sharyn Waterworth

Are Hybrid Workplaces Here To Stay? What Research Can Tell Us

In recent years, the way we work has shifted.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies who once swore remote working wasn’t viable, suddenly had to make this new mode of work happen overnight. And they did, but this shift towards remote work isn’t the only workplace trend the pandemic prompted.

It also led to the Great Resignation, with many employees quitting their jobs to seek greener pastures in regard to both salary and company culture. Employees also became more aware of burnout, with the “Quiet Quitting” movement loudly championing better work-life balance amongst employees across numerous industries.

As a result of wanting a better work-life balance, it isn’t surprising that not every employee was enthusiastic about returning to the office full-time.

While, yes, some workers thrive working from home and wanted to remain there, others missed the comradery and structure of an office environment. The result? A push for hybrid working options to continue.

Hybrid workplaces are more prevalent in Australia than in the UK, the US, or Canada. From our own research, we’ve seen 60.3% of candidates' current or most recent employers allow them to work from home. And of candidates who aren’t allowed to work remotely, 77.5% wished they could.

What they may not be on the same page about is how often they’re expected to be in the office.

There is no one-size-fits-all hybrid work strategy

Hybrid workplaces aren't a “nice” to have anymore — they’re an expectation from a significant portion of the global workforce.

Employees want a mix of remote and in-person work, making hybrid workplaces the future. According to research from AT&T, in the US the hybrid model is expected to grow from 42% (2021) to 81% (2024).

However, there is no blanket hybrid team management strategy that will work for everyone. Based on personality, what environment they’re most productive in and how much flexibility they require, each employee will benefit from a different way of working.

Some teams will need to spend more time together, in person. Others will thrive working autonomously. It’s up to leadership and management to experiment and fine-tune processes so employees can collaborate and communicate effectively.

Trusting hybrid teams is the key to a successful workplace

It's the companies with lower trust in their employees that have the most difficulty implementing a hybrid approach. A recent survey from HRD found 62% of UK business leaders feel employees don’t work as hard when ‘out of sight’.

To combat this, 78% are digitally surveilling their employees, leading to micromanagement and the erasure of trust in the workplace. Interestingly, the data doesn’t support leadership's “productivity paranoia” with 87% of employees indicating that they feel more productive hybrid working.

Believing otherwise, because letting go and breaking with tradition feels uncomfortable, will only result in a fractured team who feel micromanaged and like they’re doing something wrong.

The future of hybrid workplaces

If your company already has a hybrid model in place, you may still need to think about the strategies you need to put in place to cater for a distributed workforce. This could include aspects such as how employees can best interact with remote workers and what work-from-home policies are needed so that employee expectations are clearly set.

Building these strategies is essential to the success of hybrid workplaces, and will help across the board, including in your onboarding of new employees. We’ve seen first-hand how vague work-from-home guidelines can have a significant impact on an employee’s ability to do their job and their opinion of their employer.

There is also a cultural aspect to consider; how will you maintain your company culture with less in-person interaction? Making these calls is essential to the future of work, especially considering a hybrid model can help attract better talent to your company.

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