Hybrid working is now the norm for the coming year

The Oxford English Dictionary has named a strange term as its word of the year for 2022: “goblin mode”, which means “unapologetically complacent, lazy, careless or greedy” behavior. The Economist, however, came up with a term more relevant to today’s business scene: “hybrid working.” And despite news snippets about companies demanding full-time returns to the office, hybrid working is here to stay, something that describes how work will be done for the foreseeable future.

The votes are there, and it’s not even close. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of employers now offer hybrid work arrangements, according to a recent survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Additionally, a majority of employees, 68%, prefer hybrid working, compared to 28% wanting to work full-time from home and 8% preferring full-time onsite work, according to a World Economic Forum survey.

“We believe remote and hybrid working is here to stay, as we value a balance between time spent in person and working virtually,” says Sue Cicco, HR and Experience Manager employees for MassMutual. “Remote work often offers a greater level of accessibility and work/life balance, while in-person collaboration fosters connection, creativity and innovation.”

Hybrid working “is an incredibly superior way to work compared to the old commute/office-centric model,” says Mark Dixon, founder and CEO of IWG, which provides hybrid office spaces. “It’s no surprise that recent research we’ve undertaken shows that around half of employees would quit sooner and look for another job if forced to return to the office full-time.”

Supporting hybrid working is also key to attracting and retaining talent. “I see an opening in how companies view their version of top talent,” observes David Roberson, president of RoseRyan, a ZRG company. “I work closely with staff members who are in different time zones, and as long as I am able to reach them, and we can occasionally meet at the same time and they get the job done, little no matter where they are located.”

While remote work is popular for many, it’s still necessary to have the connections that in-person work provides. Hybrid workplaces offer this option. “It’s often the smooth conversations, sidebars, and bumps that come from in-person contact that can lead to the best solutions,” says Cicco. “In addition, we know that professional networks and mentoring relationships are important in the workplace. This is especially important for people at the start of their careers, whose first job may have been at their kitchen table rather than in an office due to the pandemic. This is where people in mid- to late-career can make meaningful contributions, paying it forward and developing talent, just as they may have learned from mentors early in their careers.

Dixon agrees that there is a middle ground between remote and onsite that addresses both the need for flexibility and in-person interactions. “Some people, myself included, really don’t work well from their home office, kitchen table or garden shed,” Dixon says. “I am too easily distracted to focus on what needs to be done. And many simply don’t have the right space or setup to create the right work environment.

The interactions that make businesses work can’t be replicated online full-time, Dixon adds. “Of course, platforms like Teams and Zoom are incredibly important and reliable. They work perfectly. But we’re social animals, and screens just aren’t able to ignite that creative spark that accompanies face-to-face teamwork. The call culture that has developed over the past couple of years may be effective, but it’s also quite abrupt and impersonal.

Within hybrid workplaces, there is more emphasis on organized meetings, which Dixon describes as “bringing people together for a purpose, from brainstorming and training to company announcements and social events. simple. Many also actively incorporate time and space for personal and interpersonal moments during the workday, encouraging people to get together and discuss work as well as topics of personal interest. As it stands, bookings for our meeting rooms so far in 2022 are up 166% compared to the same period last year. And it shows how seriously companies take the power of people-to-people contact. »

“With most employees working 100% remotely during the pandemic, we have learned how to operate successfully in a virtual work environment,” says Cicco of MassMutual. “Nevertheless, we still think meeting in person is still very useful to stimulate creativity, social connections and collaboration. So we now use a model where employees come to the office 2-3 days a week. We focus on meeting with purpose and team-level coordination to make sure people come to connect with people, not just find a change of scenery for Zoom meetings. And we’re intentional in how we bring people together to foster real connection through fun on-site events and amenities that inspire and unite us.

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