October 22, 2021
A thing is for sure: Hybrid work will continue for the next three to four years
The topic of hybrid work is among the hottest ones for this year. After a more or less easy adaptation to teleworking, companies began to realize the benefits of time spent in the office, while employees appreciated the opportunity to work from anywhere. The reality of the last two years has shown us that teleworking in 100% of the time is less efficient, and this is why in the midst of wave 4, most companies operate in the hybrid system.
An opinion article signed by Adrian Baron, ABSL Vice President
How efficient is this system and how viable for the next 3-4 years? I will try an analysis in the following lines.
A survey conducted by ABSL at the end of April reveals that 95% of companies in the Romanian business services industry will work in a hybrid system.
45% of companies in the industry say that post pandemics they intend to work from the office between 8-10 days a month, while 10% intend to come to the office 12 days a month. The employees of 22% of companies will work less than 7 days a month from the office or only occasionally. In the first five criteria for returning to the office, the companies mentioned the individual choice of the employees, the type of projects underway, the decision of the team, the performance of the employees and the stage in which a project is.
From the very beginning, the benefits of teleworking are clear – a better balance between personal and professional life, and savings made by employees as certain costs are considerably reduced or limited (clothes, transport, etc.). Even Carbon’s footprint was greatly reduced during the lockdown! A survey conducted in the USA this summer showed that 40% of employees would be willing to quit their jobs if the current employer forced them to return to office full time.
However, HR specialists around the world show the limitations and challenges of teleworking, but also the importance of a plan to approach hybrid work, both at company and personal level.
Interaction is what we miss the most during this period. Medium and long-term professional development is negatively affected if the team does not interact directly for long periods of time.
This is even more difficult for early-stage employees who are not yet accustomed to the company’s business and culture. Team building requires direct interaction, we are social beings for whom the subtle aspects of non-verbal interaction and closeness are more important than we think. Although we live in the digital age, 50% of those who work predominantly remote miss important information. Face-to-face communication is thus much more efficient, which is why onboarding and training programs now include physical interaction.
It is proven (Gallup Coach webcast series) that people who have a good friend in the office are 7 times more dedicated to their job, but, unfortunately, the hybrid model comes automatically with physical separation, which makes these interactions more difficult. That is why it is important that teams are regularly brought together in team buildings or other projects that facilitate interaction.
An interesting concept first revealed by MIT, long before the pandemic, is that those who work entirely or predominantly from home may receive a lower score on annual assessments or have a lower chance of promotion, compared to those who come to the office more often. It’s called “passive facetime” and is related to the human psyche. In short, they are impacted by these issues simply because they are not seen in the office. Therefore, team managers should balance office days with home days.
One of the most important aspects is related to mental health. 80% of the UK employees believe that working from home during the lockdown had a negative impact on their mental health. Most companies have invested in programs that help physical and mental health. 72% of business services industry’s companies have taken various measures in 2021 to avoid burnout (such as mental health and wellbeing programs, 1-on-1 communication, flexible working hours).
Let’s not forget the organizational culture, which in the hybrid model is exposed to the risk of being diluted. Even in the past, 60% of office workers could not fully understand the values of the company they belonged to. The company’s culture must thus adapt to both worlds (offline and remote).
Certainly, both teleworking and office work exclusively have limitations and no longer correspond to the current context. Large-scale vaccination of the population could make office meetings more frequent, so necessary to maintain the efficiency and development of teams, but also the possibility to travel. Also, office spaces will adapt to new requirements with more emphasis on socialization. As ABSL surveys show, most companies in our industry have adapted their evaluation systems for managers and employees to the new reality. Certainly, hybrid work will continue for the next 3-4 years, at least for the companies in the business services industry.