Covid has forced us indoors and companies to adopt Work from Home arrangements. Initially considered a short term measure, organizations worldwide are now contemplating making WFH either permanent or have some sort of mixed or the so-called “Hybrid Work” which is essentially a combination of onsite and remote work. While Tech firms such as Google and Twitter have provided their employees with the option of permanent WFH, others are moving towards a Hybrid model.
Indeed, with WFH becoming popular both with employees and employers who now see it as a viable alternative to onsite work as well as from a purely commercial perspective, since maintenance and upkeep costs of Hi Tech offices can be reduced or even eliminated, remote work is suddenly the “in thing”. However, for those firms where some or all employees have to return to offices sometime or the other in the future, a Hybrid model where employees “rotate” between Onsite and Remote work would be the New Normal.
This is a part of the findings from the 2021 Work Trend Index, an Annual Report from Microsoft that helps organizations navigate the world of work, and the survey of more than 30,000 employed workers across 31 countries coupled with a number crunching and analytics driven analysis of productivity measures on LinkedIn, indicates that WFH is here to stay and perhaps, a sign of how far things have changed in the emerging Brave New World of Work.
Having said that, like everything else in these “viral times” where trends change at Uber speed and what is true one day is debunked the next day, it is important to view the Hybrid models from a less “excitable” perspective and to think in longer duration terms. For instance, with the United States “returning to normal” measured in terms of F2F or Face to Face interactions being allowed, it is hard to see why employers or for that matter, employees too would not want to be in a “permanent state of solitary WFH”.
Moreover, an analysis of the findings from the same report also reveals that for a majority of professionals, the Pandemic and WFH have made them weary and wary of any sort of disruption and as a news outlet puts it, “work sucks these days”. So, again, one has to be circumspect about Hybrid Work gaining traction. Indeed, once the pandemic subsides, there is no reason to doubt why we would still be “clinging on” to WFH for all on a permanent basis.
On the other hand, both the “fear of disruption” and the “tedious” WFH might make Hybrid work a reality as a mix of onsite and remote work might just work to soothe the former and to motivate the latter. This is the reason why I believe that Hybrid work models need to be given more thought by all stakeholders. As it is the 9–5 workday is over, and we need to prepare for this New Normal and so too, Hybrid models ought to be embraced if not, adopted by all stakeholders.
So, are we as professionals ready for the Brave New World of Work where courageous workers and employers alike need to confront the challenges of a world shaken by an “Once in a Century Pandemic”, that our tech driven selves could only think of as something that happened before the advent of Modern Medicine? More so, when it has scarred the entire world and has altered our perceptions on how to live and work and has made us question our assumptions on what is important to us.
Last, among the many offshoots of the Covid Crisis is the way we would live and work in the future and in all probability, Hybrid work models are here to stay and irrespective of whether they would fade in popularity, many employers would certainly experiment with them.
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