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Hybrid working: the genie is out of the bottle

When it comes to change, the shift to remote working due to Covid in the past year is arguably one of the biggest most businesses have ever seen – and it happened overnight.

Now the genie is out of the bottle, things are unlikely to go back to the way they were before. Employees are demanding more flexibility and employers have to listen in a way they never had to pre-pandemic.

In a report by Microsoft published last month, The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready? their CEO Satya Nadella says: ‘Over the past year, no area has undergone more rapid transformation than the way we work. Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly — inclusive of collaboration, learning, and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in when, where, and how people work.’

With September’s return to the office just around the corner for many, hybrid working is the new buzz word – and it’s changing the business landscape for good. Whether it’s a mix of people working full time at home and others in the office full time, or employees doing a mix of both, the ‘office’ as we knew it will never be the same again.

Talent is everywhere

But with 41% of employees considering leaving their current employer this year and 46% saying they’re likely to move because they can now work from home, the other major shift here is in the talent landscape. 

For non-frontline workers,  people no longer need to weigh up if they want a long commute to work or to pay for the cost of living in the city. The option to work from home for at least part of the week is good news for companies wanting to attract a more diverse workforce. And it’s good news for employees, opening up opportunities that were previously unavailable due to life balance, parenting, other commitments.

‘Companies in major cities can hire talent from underrepresented groups that may not have the means or desire to move to a big city. And in smaller cities, companies will now have access to talent that may have a different set of skills than they had before.’
–Karin Kimbrough, Chief Economist at LinkedIn

While we are all learning with each new phase of this next normal, these are the key trends we will be navigating over the coming months according to the 2021 Work Trend Index.

  • Flexible work is here to stay
  • Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake up call
  • High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce
  • Gen-Z is at risk and will need to be re-energised
  • Shrinking networks are endangering innovation
  • Authenticity will spur productivity and well being
  • Talent is everywhere in a hybrid world

How are businesses managing these changes

So how are businesses managing these changes and supporting their employees? How do you bring people together, support them to get excited by purpose and feel part of something bigger when they’re spending huge amounts of time at home?

Well being at work, employee experience, a renewed focus on culture and purpose have all been made top priorities by major corporates in the last year. 

The Global Culture Survey 2021 by PwC reveals 69% of senior leaders credit much of their success during the pandemic to culture. 

‘Organisations with a view of culture as a distinction and source of competitive advantage maintain a sense of community better, respond to customer needs better, innovate with a higher degree of success and deliver better business results.’
Bhushan Sethi Joint Global Leader for People and Organisation at PwC

Read the Microsoft research here: The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready?

Read PwC’s Culture Survey here.

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