The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the future of work and challenged many assumptions about how we do business
It is true that some companies were already prepared to transition to working from home, while others were not. Those who had the foresight to set up policy and infrastructure in advance of the pandemic have been able to keep their teams together while still meeting client needs. On the other hand, there are many businesses that have been slow to respond or failed altogether because they didn’t have a contingency plan in place. The ‘great disruption’ that we have all experienced in the way we work is set to be even more disruptive in the months and years to come.
The hybrid model will be the new norm.
The hybrid model is a compromise. It’s partly remote work, partly office work—but it’s also a good compromise between the two. In fact, I believe that this combination of approaches will become the new norm in business and allow companies to get the best of both worlds: flexibility and stability. The golden rules of hybrid work are leadership and culture. How are you leading your team through a disruptive era and how are you managing your company culture to get the best out of your team?
In the post-COVID world, flexible office space will be king.
Flexible office space will be king in the post-COVID world. In the traditional model, most employees work nine-to-five and get a desk, usually in an office building or campus of some sort. But as we move to a hybrid workforce, flexible office space becomes key.
Employees need a place where they can not only plug in their laptops and immediately get to work no matter where they are, but also collaborate in an environment designed for creativity and engagement. Employers need employees who can be productive outside the traditional office setting and who are not tied down by geographic location or hours worked. Employers will also want to attract talent from outside their company walls when the size of talent pools expands beyond what one employer can offer alone. That means more options for employee satisfaction (and retention) will become available as hybrid workspaces open up across both emerging markets and mature economies alike.
The office building itself is changing too: it’s becoming less like a workspace with uniform white walls and generic office furniture, which doesn’t encourage collaboration between coworkers. Instead, offices are becoming more welcoming places that foster collaboration between teams while still maintaining privacy when necessary. The office of the future is place for collaboration and creativity, for meetings and team engagement, for social contact and wellness. Employees must be encouraged to join in on a new version of company culture and this must be supported by creative and forward thinking leaders.
The culture within companies needs to change too: leaders must embrace new ways of working with each other if they want their culture supported by their colleagues. A willingness (or even eagerness) to adopt new ways of working together remotely rather than face-to-face only at a prescribed locations every day is essential.
Remote working is here to stay.
You may have heard that remote workers are happier, more productive and more loyal than those who work in the office. But what are these benefits really? And how can you make sure that working from home is a good experience for your business?
A survey by FlexJobs found that 86% of employees would rather work from home than commute to an office every day. The same survey also indicated that 56% of respondents said they were likely or very likely to leave their current job if their employer wouldn’t let them do so remotely. And it seems like this trend won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
There are a variety of reasons why flexible or hybrid working can benefit your company:
> Employees get more time with their family or friends during the day, which leads to better morale and higher productivity when they return to work. This work/life balance makes for happier team members overall—a crucial factor when trying to motivate employees at all levels across departments within your organisation. Not only does this mean a reduction in turnover rates, but also less stress on each individual worker’s health and wellness due to having less pressure put upon them to adhere to rigid time schedules.
> Lower capex – businesses can reduce not only their office space footprint but also reduce their capital expenditure by outsourcing their physical office environment to a third party provider of flexible workspace.
Corporate culture will evolve to support a hybrid workforce.
The best way to keep a new workforce engaged is to have them feel like they’re part of the team, and company culture has a lot to do with this. The key here is fostering a sense of inclusion and understanding. You need your employees to see themselves as being on the same team as everyone else in their company, whether they’re physically present or not. You also need them to know what’s expected of them as remote workers—for example, how often they should check in with their managers, if they’ll have access to any online training materials that would help their performance at work, where can they work from if they choose to work outside the home, how can they stay connected with their colleagues, etc.
Companies need to focus on three main strategies to survive in a hybrid workforce world –
- Recruit well
- Retain talent
- Stay adaptable
Traditional leadership styles will suffer.
In the past, organisations that have relied on a traditional approach to management have been able to grow quickly based on their ability to attract top talent with strong work ethics and loyalty. These companies were also able to maintain high levels of productivity by focusing on a few core values that everyone followed strictly. Today, though, many employees are looking for more flexibility in their schedules or even part-time employment opportunities so that they can spend more time with their families or pursue other passions outside of work. As a result, these companies are losing out on talented workers who feel stifled by the lack of flexibility offered in traditional environments, while also failing to attract new hires with similar values because they know they won’t fit well within such rigid structures.
Leadership must support a hybrid workforce.
Leadership should focus not only on expanding its scope, but also becoming more inclusive when working with different groups within its organisation. Including those who don’t fit into traditional job descriptions. This means breaking down barriers between departments so people can collaborate across functions as needed without feeling isolated from peers outside their immediate team memberships. A hybrid work solution supports this premise – providing spaces for people to meet and teams to work together collaboratively as and when required. It also involves having leaders who understand how to cultivate diversity within teams without making others feel excluded from conversations.
Investing in digital solutions and supporting employees to work from wherever they want will enable leaders to create a workplace that is meaningful and rich in experiences and relationships.
The future of work is hybrid.
We’re all familiar with the term “hybrid”, but let’s define it again for this context: a combination of something old and something new that creates a whole new experience. Hybrid work models leverage the benefits of flexibility, agility and remote working to create an entirely new way to find meaning at work.
In order for us to shift our mindsets towards creating this type of future, we need to accept that it requires us to do two things differently: firstly, we need real leadership around what it means for businesses today; secondly, we must also change how we think about success as individuals within those businesses.