The pandemic forced organisations and individuals to confront questions that were there long before Covid appeared – about employee engagement, productivity, staff retention and work-life balance. It was the catalyst for a profound shift from the traditional workplace to a hybrid version.
We can’t say with certainty what the hybrid workplace will look like, but we can be certain it won’t look like the past.
- A survey of US workers (Pulse of the American Worker) found that 42% of remote workers would consider looking for another job if their current employer did not continue with flexible working.
- Another survey found that 77% of employees would be happier with the option to work from home, at least some of the time (Owl Labs State of Remote Working Report 2020).
- McKinsey calculated that between 20% and 25% of all workforces could be home-based for 3-5 days a week.
- Gartner produced research to show that while only 36% of office-based staff working a 40-hour week were considered high-performers, the figure rose to 55% for remote/flexible workers.
Smart organisations soon realised that the hastily conceived working arrangements forced on them by the pandemic presented a long-term opportunity to redesign work and create a win-win for the business and its staff. Done right, the hybrid workplace could increase employee satisfaction and productivity, while reducing overheads and the environmental impact of commuting.
Employees also embraced the upsides of the new work-from-home trend. Time that used to be spent commuting could be used more productively or for a better work/life balance. According to the US Census Bureau, the average journey to work takes 28 minutes one way and longer for workers in traffic-choked metropolitan areas.
Fewer days in the office can also result in significant savings for staff in the cost of fuel or public transport, which are becoming increasingly attractive as global energy prices continue to rise.
But after the scrabble for survival in the pandemic, how do organisations consolidate their successes and move beyond temporary fixes? Where next for the hybrid workplace?
This event will bring together CIOs who played critical roles in supporting their organisations to take their first steps to hybrid working.
It will consider the immediate technology challenges as well as the longer-term issues that employers will need to confront.
The event will also consider the more subtle challenges of the hybrid workplace: how to use technology to ensure that staff have similar experiences and opportunities whether they are office bound or working from home. How to enhance connectedness and prevent isolation. For all the advantages of working from home, there are significant challenges for organisations and their staff. There is plenty of evidence that loss of social contact during the pandemic negatively impacted mental health and wellbeing of some people. How will the hybrid workplace support staff when they spent less time connected to their physical networks?
Businesses are working hard to answer these questions, for example by building social activities or games into the working day designed to give staff a sense of equal participation in company life whether they’re in the office or working remotely.
These issues are sparking a bigger conversation about how the office itself may need to change. How to enhance collaboration and maintain productivity. How to provide training, development and support in a world of reduced in-person interactions. How to ensure that the hybrid workplace is outward and well as inward looking, and that the experience of customers is not forgotten in the transition.
By design or by default, the hybrid workplace has been propelled up the digital transformation agenda. The pandemic was a catalyst for rapid and dramatic change, but for most organisations the journey has just begun. This event will consider the tools and strategies CIOs will need to make that journey comfortable and successful for everyone.