Stilettos on Monday, slippers on Tuesday: Hybrid is here to stay

By rotide
Created 17/10/2023 - 15:01
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It seems that the days of employees enjoying - or loathing - their entirely remote work environments are coming to an end, with scores of world-leading companies recently announcing return-to-work mandates.

Zoom, the video conferencing platform that profited substantially [1] from remote work [2] during the pandemic, is now asking employees to return to the office. Its CEO, Eric Yuan, claims Zoom meetings don't encourage innovation or allow people to build trust.

You don't have to look far to find examples of other companies who feel the same - Goldman Sachs wants employees in five days a week, Google [3] is factoring employees' in-office attendance into their performance reviews, and Amazon, Apple, Meta and JPMorgan have all brought their fully remote workforce eras to an end.

A balancing act

For some professional workers - those who have likely grown accustomed to slippers over stilettos, leisurely Monday morning starts, and unfettered access to their pantry full of snacks - these mandates have felt like a rude and unnecessary intrusion. While a section of the workforce has been vocal in speaking out against return-to-office policies, equally loud have been those who are choosing to adopt a permanently hybrid approach to work, recognising the importance of social connections with colleagues, the lack of creativity a remote environment fosters, and the difficulty of sustaining a healthy company culture from afar.

According to new research from McKinsey, spending half of working time in the office is the ideal setup for hybrid work, as it gives employees the flexibility they crave without the isolation of working remotely full-time [4]. The research found that when workers spent at least 50% of their time together in person, it vastly improved mentorship, collaboration, trust between colleagues, retention and overall team performance. This 50/50 ratio is what McKinsey has deemed the ‘hybrid sweet spot,' giving new joiners a chance to get to know the rest of their team, allowing managers more face-to-face time with their direct reports, and fostering a culture of learning and support.

The cost of remote work

Anyone who's attended a brainstorming session via a Zoom or Teams call will be able to attest to the creativity argument behind a hybrid approach - being geographically scattered makes collaborative creativity hard. This can be stifling for companies who rely on their creative outputs, but even for companies who don't, it can get in the way of creativity improving their processes and efficiencies. new era [5]. The swing from the classic in-office job to the remote revolution we've witnessed over the past three years has showcased the two extreme ends of the spectrum, and we're now realising that the best option is to have a bit of both.

Hybrid working offers moderation, flexibility, accountability, and is sustainable for businesses and employees alike. It's not just a compromise - it's a solution that empowers workers and benefits companies, and is undoubtedly an upgrade from our pre-pandemic landscape.

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