With the COVID-19 pandemic transforming the way we work, organizations have had to shift gears as we progress towards the ‘New Normal’ where only ‘Work from Home’ wouldn’t suffice, and ‘Working from Office’ completely wouldn’t also be a choice, owing to the continuous scare of the virus. Such a scenario demands organizations to reinvent their working style and introduce a Hybrid Working Culture, which brings the best of both worlds to ensure a smooth transition and pave the way for the ‘Future of Work’, which is more employee centric.
With offices being shut for more than 18 months globally due to the nationwide lockdowns being announced by countries, the ‘Work from Home’ has helmed the work reigns. While there have been mixed reviews about such work culture, there’s no denying the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the global working models, forever. The IT industry, which was the frontrunner in taking the initiative of ‘Work from Home,’ is also set to be probably the last one to Resume ‘Work from Office.’
It is noteworthy to mention here that while employees are longing for a social connection, the concern of concurrent waves of COVID-19 is still hampering the decisions of employers to resume physical presence in the offices till the time it can be avoided. The IT industry has also been one of the best performing industries during the pandemic on the back of innovative technological tools available with them to support their operations. The shift in positive attitudes toward remote work was evident during a recent PwC study. It highlighted that 83% of employers now say the shift to remote work has succeeded their company.
Despite the pandemic, the IT industry is witnessing increased demand for digital solutions to adopt hybrid working models and ensure business continuity. The growth factors for the IT industry remain resilience, employee centricity approach, business continuity, adoption of technology, empathetic leadership, etc., that have been the backbone of every other industry. A hybrid workplace perfectly blends the in-person and remote experiences.
Empowering Work-life Balance
The pandemic has driven a significant shift in managing work-life balance, and this aspect will set the tone for the shape of things to happen. As per the hybrid working model, the future workplace can be anywhere and at any time where the traditional office would function as the hub of social interaction, collaboration, and innovation. It will also entail two other significant drivers of sustained human performance – empathy and well-being. There needs to be greater thrust on employees’ health, wellness, and mental well-being, including a recognition of the health footprint left by the pandemic. And employers have to take the lead in ensuring the same and offer them a comforting working environment that will eventually result in productivity enhancement.
The strong push for the hybrid model owes to the fact that it offers significant benefits to workers and businesses. WeForum’s study cited better work-life balance, greater schedule control, and less stress as crucial benefits of the hybrid working model. Meanwhile, the leadership highlighted that the hybrid approach increases productivity and engagement, reduces real estate costs, and assists in attracting and retaining talent.
There have been many inspiring stories, which depict the success of the Hybrid Working Model. Many companies aim to find a balance between employee satisfaction and organizational productivity. Employee-friendly initiatives will only lead to effective and successful hybrid working models.
Recognition Will Go a Long Way
A study by WeForum and Achievers has revealed that nearly one-quarter (23%) of employees aren’t being recognized frequently enough for the good job done. Employers need to realize the fact the remote working is far more challenging than working-at-office, and if employees aren’t satisfied with a manager’s approach, they will have no choice but to leave. Such scenarios demand higher interpersonal skills. Employee recognition is the key to boosting the morale of the workforce high. Recognition is a crucial driver of employee inclusion and belonging and being recognized makes people feel more connected to their teams and their manager. Today more than ever, this soft skill has been overpowering among other vital skills. Managers need to drive this change and ensure that they recognize even the small efforts of employees, which will eventually result in a big-bang transformation for the organization in the long run.
Hybrid working models consider these passive requirements of optimal functioning, and organizations worldwide are embedding these into their work culture in the new normal.
Co-working Spaces: A Great Idea?
WeForum’s study predicts that by 2025, the workforce of tomorrow will be dispersed, digitally enabled, liquid workforce. Work will not be somewhere you go, but something you do. The idea of co-working spaces can also be looked up as a refreshing alternative to home and office environments. A recent study by WeWork and Workplace Intelligence highlighted that post-COVID-19, employees are likely to spend their time almost evenly between corporate offices, their homes, and co-working spaces or cafes. Around 79% of the C-suite are ready to permit their staff to split their time between corporate offices and remote working if their job allows for it.
A Truly Boundaryless World
While the world moves towards the New Normal, companies need to quickly get their act together by reinventing themselves by offering employee-friendly working models that can be mutually beneficial. With hybrid work culture emerging as the most viable alternative, the future of work needs to be worker-centric, where the human experience will take center stage.
The article has been written by Shreeranganath Kulkarni, Chief Delivery Officer, Birlasoft