Will Hybrid Work Survive – Or Things Would Go Back to Square One?

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Written by Smriti Rajan

Despite remote work being a success, many companies expect employees to return to the office. As their back-to-office plans ramp up, the hybrid work model seems to be the most popular choice. According to a Condeco report, which polled 1500 employees in the US, found that 85% of employees would like to go hybrid. 

When companies were forced to embrace the remote work model due to the increasing COVID cases, many didn’t like it at first. But, today, people are either looking for remote or hybrid work options. 

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The Hybrid Work Model Controversy

The experience in the past two years has fundamentally changed the way people define work in their lives. It has reshaped priorities, worldviews, and identities while drawing a bold line between what’s important and what’s not. Now, what people want from work has changed from what they are willing to offer in return. 

Many companies try to adopt the hybrid work model in an attempt to ease the transition. But Gallup’s data shows that employees who are never remote feel more burnout than the ones that are fully or sometimes remote.  

For some, the hybrid model came as a relief initially. But as months passed, the novelty of the hybrid set-up soon came to an end. It, then, became a hassle and jarring one-day-in/ one-day-out routine. According to a study by Tinypulse, 80% of employees agreed that the hybrid work model was emotionally draining.

But the hybrid work model can still create perfect harmony for employees and employer if the employer does it right. Elora Voyles, industrial-organizational psychologist, and people scientist says, “The arrangement goes wrong when the hybrid set-up is dictated by a supervisor”. 

According to Danna, the co-author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller, “Love As A Business Strategy: Resilience, Belonging & Success” —  the hybrid models are a great way to have better work-life balance for employees. 

The Challenges

Having spent two years in uncertainty due to the pandemic, it’s easy to understand why leaders see a return to office as the solution. But, insisting on a mandatory return to the office can result in critical talent risks. Besides, employees who proved themselves to be productive when remote are now challenging employers on why they should return to work.

75% of employees who currently work in a remote or hybrid environment say that their preferences for flexible work have increased. According to the same research, it is also seen that employees, when given the flexibility to choose how, when, and where they work, perform better.

This brings another challenge, i.e., to set flexible work standards in a way that balances both employee expectations and business outcomes. Since managers are the bridge between leadership priorities and evolving employee expectations, it is necessary to equip them with needed resources and training to manage the transition. It is also important for them to create clarity on how, when, and why the requirement is for the team to meet in person. 

So, we cannot say much about the future of work. But there’s one thing clear — hybrid work is going to survive in the long-term — at least, for many organizations. However, the rewards will be outstanding if employees get to choose their working patterns. The new age requires an openness to change, an experimental mindset, and a keen eye to identify the potential drivers of employee performance. 

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