Is hybrid working still the future?
Although the initial shock of the pandemic is far behind us, there are some elements which still haven’t been clearly resolved.
In the beginning, we went from being office based, to working from home on a daily basis, almost overnight. Then, as we started to near the end, hybrid working was introduced. And now, we see many businesses looking to bring their employees back to the workplace fulltime.
However, the benefits of working remotely have already been clearly established and many workers are happily acclimatised to their home office, with very little appetite to go back.
It’s almost as if the change and flux that has been ever-present in our daily lives for the past two years has proven too much. New restrictions, new plans and new enforcements have taken their toll and now, all we want to do is stay put for a little while.
So, with the back and forth between employees and employers on working remotely vs. onsite, how do we move forward and is hybrid still the future?
What have we learnt about hybrid working?
Some of the issues that many employees were originally concerned about when it came to remote work, have actually been turned on their head.
Mental health, for one, was initially a concern for many. The isolation that can come with working from home was a worry and many believed their mental health would suffer with the lack of human contact. This may have been more of a concern while the pandemic was in full force but now, we have the opportunity to manage our time a bit more freely as well as meet friends, family and colleagues over lunch, making it much less of an issue.
Research from Owl Labs found that remote and hybrid employees were 22% happier than workers in an onsite office environment. In addition, remote workers were less stressed, more focused and were more productive than when working in the office.
The rise in lunchtime walks as well as the particularly Irish tradition of morning sea swimming has also given us the opportunity to improve our physical health and deal with the day’s stresses in a constructive way.
Work/life balance also plays a major part in all of this – particularly for those with a long commute. There’s simply more time in the day to dedicate to your homelife activities whether it’s fitting in a run, getting the shopping done at lunch or simply getting an extra half an hour in the morning to do some Yoga and meditation rather than being stuck in traffic.
Where can improvements be made?
Certainly, at itContracting, we’re still seeing many of the clients we work with asking for employees to work onsite or in the office on a fulltime basis, particularly for IT contract positions. This is currently a stubborn trend and not one that we see changing just yet.
However, Satya Nadella did put his finger on the issue quite recently terming it ‘productivity paranoia’ in his interview with Yahoo Finance.
“More than 85% of workers or members of the workforce think that they’re being productive. And over 85% of managers think that there’s more to be desired on productivity,” Satya Nadella explained.
“So, there’s that paradox, and I think the best way to bridge the paradox is not to have more dogma, but more data,” he said.
So, it’s really about learning more about our new(ish!) way of working and developing a keen sense of where collaboration, productivity, creativity and wellbeing truly meet and what the best recipe is for each business. And of course, using technology and data to guide our decision-making.
In the meantime, however, there are definitely areas that still need to be improved.
Training and collaboration can be difficult to do effectively on a remote basis and new employees can find themselves stuck with unanswered questions if the right network isn’t put in place.
Remote work doesn’t always automatically equate to better wellbeing either – particularly for stressed parents who need some quiet time.
And finally, many of us still need human contact. Going into the office can provide some much needed respite, especially for those who are at risk of isolation.
Where do we go from here?
We still have some way to go in finding the perfect balance between employees wanting to work remotely on a fulltime basis and businesses who want to bring their staff in fulltime. And the ultimate questions may not get definitive answers. For many, it will be a case of ‘it depends’ i.e., it depends on the type of work, the industry, the compliance requirements, the team, the position and the individual involved.
But there is one thing that you can definitely take from this and that’s our focus on relationship building here at itContracting. Knowing our clients and candidates really well is absolutely critical for us. It allows us to get to know the roles better, our candidates better, who would make a good fit – professionally and culturally – and also so that we can consistently put forward candidates who we already have a trusted relationship with – which is particularly key for cyber security roles.
Find out more
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