After almost a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world of work has changed drastically. The thought of life coming back to normal is tempting but is it realistic? Many of us are ready to get back into working away from home and back in the office, but for others, this is the new normal. Especially those who have significantly suffered from the virus and are unable to go back to working in the manner that they really enjoy. The real answer might be found in the ability to adapt and to find normal in this new reality.
Millions of people have started to work from home, and this situation even if contrasted seems to have conquered the labour market. After the rise of digital nomads, we are now facing the rise of a new tribe of remote workers: the hybrid workers.
We are now all familiar with those terms, but they still trigger some confusion. Here is a bit of clarity.
Before the pandemic, companies were starting to implement more flexible work models but the process was slowed down by the fear of losing control over employees, and the general misconception about remote work. The association of home-office with lazy employees not being productive, pretending to work in front of a film.
However, Covid-19 hit and we were all pushed in at the deep end with no other choice but to make it work. In the beginning, the change was so sudden and it had people scrambling to catch up with the work from home paradigm. Whether it was getting a stable internet connection at home by looking at spectrum internet prices or other provider prices, setting a home office space, establishing a proper routine, or anything else, it had everyone looking for new ways to stay productive. Now, however, people are more used to it and even enjoy working from home and places other than the office. The overall feeling after one year of remote work is very positive from both employees and employers. According to research conducted by Slack between June 30 and August 11, 2020: “Only 12% (of workers) want to return to full-time office work, and 72% want a hybrid remote-office model moving forward.“. Also, Companies such as Twitter announced that they would permanently allow remote work for people that “are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home”.
The question triggered by those new trends is: What is the office for? A place to attend meetings, to help teamwork, project kick-offs, formation, and also connect with colleagues. Coffee machine chats are not to be forgotten, in the end, the office is a social place. This is why the hybrid work model is more likely to take the lead. It offers a good compromise between the flexibility of remote work and the office that provides a space where to work in person with colleagues.
The biggest challenge of this new remote era is the transition on a management level. How do you lead a team online, how do you monitor employees mental health, how do you maintain a good company culture online? This implies a great adaptation. The development of new online management skills, where communication is key. The management that says my company cares and not my company is scared. A lack of management skills could lead to an over control, a loss of work time limit, etc.
We can see that remote work has become the “new normal”. The offer of remote jobs (temporary, hybrid or full time) increased, so did the demand. Indeed, Karin Kimbrough, chief economist at Linkedin said:
“The rise in remote work was among the top trends this year. On our platform, we saw a large rise in jobs that offer remote work as well as an increase in demand for remote work. Globally, we’ve seen a fourfold rise in the number of jobs that offer remote work since March. Among jobseekers, the volume of job searches filtering for “Remote” work on LinkedIn increased ~60% since the beginning of March, while the share of Remote Job Applications increased nearly 2.5 times”
This is where coworking spaces are entering the game. Coworking spaces among other businesses have definitely been suffering because of the pandemic. But, coworking spaces will surely experience a new era of growth due to the new demand emerging with the rise of this tribe of hybrid workers.
It has become a very attractive option for either employees and employers. Working from home is not to everyone’s taste, even in a hybrid work model. Two cases scenario. You simply don’t like it. You do not feel productive and wish to maintain professional life and private life separated. The second situation, working from home is not sustainable for you mentally and/or physically. You might not have a proper environment to perform your tasks, for example, having young children at home, living in a shared flat, lacking space, light, furniture, you name it. As an employer, you might prefer to have your staff working in an office to increase workplace cohesion. With Covid cases significantly declining in many parts of the world, it may be time to think about easing workers back into an office environment. You can use something similar to this Return to work memo example as a way of encouraging workers to return while addressing their concerns about Covid safety measures.
Some employers think that working from home means that they do not need to worry about the same guidelines as there are in the office, even though it is still vital to ensure that all employees have great data protection that is in accordance with data protection laws. For example, a UK employer would use a GDPR audit from companies like Privacy Helper for good uk guidance, which ensures that all employees and customers have safe security for their personal data. There are also a variety of other aspects that need to be considered when employees and employers work from home, but do the positives out way the negatives?
Remote work was already becoming more and more popular, it has now reached the more traditional working sphere. A trend that has probably transformed the world of work forever spotting hybrid work as a durable and sustainable solution. We’ve been shown that working remotely has no significant impact on productivity. Remote work offers many advantages for both companies and employees. As a result, the flex sector is receiving a new demand from workers and businesses, looking for flexible options to structure this new hybrid work model. If remote work is still new to you, check our article about how to work from home efficiently!