The New Era of Work

 

Since early 2020, there have been many discussions about the future of office working and companies all over the world are noticing a work-life shift happening since needing to work from home due to the Covid pandemic. Companies now need to re-think their approach to previous working patterns in this new era of work. As a recruitment company, we have certainly noticed a shift in candidates wants and needs and have noticed that companies are re-evaluating their approach to the way they work in a hybrid working world.

The hybrid model is a location-flexible approach to working and new research by the Adecco Group UK and Ireland have found that 77% of UK employees believe a mix of remote working and office-based working is the way forward post Covid. A global study surveyed over 1,000 employees from nine countries, including the UK, which found that there are universal benefits to an increased flexible approach to hybrid working and a huge 79% of people think it’s important that their company needs to implement a more flexible approach to working.

However, a BBC article suggests that many people won’t be eager to get back to the workplace and found that some companies including Barclays think working from home is not sustainable. Nevertheless, Lloyds Banking Group found in a staff survey that nearly 80% of staff wanted to work at home for at least three days a week meanwhile HSBC have announced a 40% cut in its office footprint.

Tech giant, Google, have requested staff to return to work at least three times per week from September and other large organisations such as Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter are giving their staff the option to work from home permanently, as well as Salesforce and Amazon offering a hybrid model approach to work. Deciding on whether to adopt the hybrid approach is only just the beginning, the next decision is when employees should be in the office, for example whether they should all be in at once or on a staggered rota. Harvard Business Review found that around 70% of companies plan to move to some form of hybrid approach to working but question how much choice employees should have in choosing their days in the office and argue that the business should choose which days employees should work from home. The same article also found that those employees that worked from home had a 50% lower rate of promotion compared to their office colleagues which is another challenge for employers to bear in mind as they will need to ensure that there won’t be a division between the team and to encourage a fair way of working.

With companies making different decisions on the way forward, we have put together pros and cons of hybrid working.

Benefits

  • Better work-life balance which can increase mental and physical wellbeing.
  • Commuting time can be used more effectively and reduced costs.
  • Performance focused – rather than having a focus on hours worked, the focus is on productivity, instilling trust between employee and employer whilst also increasing motivation.
  • Reduced office costs.
  • Environmental benefits – reduced commuters reduce the carbon footprint.
  • Staff can work in a way that best suits them.
  • Employers will have access to more talent if there are no restrictions on location.
  • Unrestricted choice of home location – staff may look at different locations to rent/buy which they may not have done before due to ease of commuting.

Drawbacks

  • The option of hybrid working has to be fair for all members of staff. If some roles in the organisation aren’t possible to do from home and need to be done in the office, this could cause tension amongst staff.
  • In order to fairly promote staff, performance will need to be measured equally to ensure that those working from home are on an equal footing to those working in the office.
  • Not all organisations are suitable for a hybrid approach. Many organisations might find that their industry thrives better when their members of staff work face-to-face. It might be that they are in a creative industry that requires a more collaborative approach, and those people blossom better when they’re bouncing ideas off each other.
  • Change in office culture. Those people that thrive better in an office environment may now find that the environment has now shifted with less people being office-based. Some people do prefer being surrounded by their colleagues and motivated in that environment with face-to-face meetings and after work drinks. Therefore, a new inclusive culture will need to be adapted to accommodate a positive work culture in a hybrid environment to ensure no one is left out.
  • Access to work perks. Whereas before a company could provide an in-house gym, free hot drinks and free parking as some of the work perks, these will no longer be as important to an employee. This means that organisations need to re-evaluate their perks in order to stand out in a crowded job market.
  • Investing in the right technology to ensure staff can work effectively from home.

One alternative way of working to hybrid working is the concept of a four-day working week. In a recent study, it was found that a four-day working week would significantly reduce our carbon footprint. This concept is now being trialled by Unilever in a year-long trial in New Zealand, as well as other organisations trialling it in Spain and Scotland. The 4 Day Week Campaign has had a lot of traction amongst businesses, economists and environmentalists who believe it will be hugely beneficial for many aspects of society. In a recent Guardian article, Laurie Mompelat, an environmental researcher and report author at Platform London, said: “Shifting to a four-day working week with fair pay for all can help us change the way value is created in society by making more space for care, rest and relationships.”

The four-day week or the hybrid model doesn’t have to be adapted at all of course, some people do just prefer the old fashioned 9-5 structured way of working, but can organisations really afford to ignore the work-life shift and not respond to the growing demand of a better work-life balance? In a survey with almost all of the 50 biggest UK employers not planning to bring staff back to work full-time, it seems the new era of work is here to stay and employers and employees are adapting to these demands and changes which will hopefully result in a more well balanced way of working and living.