Will hybrid working change how we work in the long term?

Posted on 7 Sep 2022

In July we discussed how hybrid meetings are changing how we communicate in the workplace, a trend initiated by a shift to hybrid working that was developing in the UK at the time.

But now hybrid working appears to be becoming the norm. In figures collected by Adecco and reported by Somerset Live, nearly two thirds of employees want to continue to work in a hybrid format, and, according to The HR Director,68% of companies globally will be switching to a hybrid model. But how will this change our working patterns? Will this affect our productivity? And what impact will it have on IT and recruitment departments?

The impact of hybrid working on our ability to work

There were concerns at the beginning of lockdown in March 2020 that productivity levels would suffer as a result of remote working. But it appears that the opposite has occurred.

Whilst it is true that some found it harder to concentrate, with distractions such as home schooling and noisy neighbours to contend with, many actually over-worked, working longer hours with shorter breaks and suffered serious burnout.

Hyrbid working, therefore, seems like the perfect solution to suit many working people. It’s arguably too early to tell statistically if it’s more successful than either fully remote of office-based working, but with more and more businesses adopting it as a strategy, it appears to strike the right balance.

How will hybrid working change how we work? And what effect will this have on Recruitment?

Figures from Adecco and reported by Somerset Live show that half of employees are happier with changes to their working patterns since the beginning of lockdown, but that means that half aren’t! As a result, Adecco Chief Executive Alain Dehaze, states that “one size will not fit all when it comes to addressing employees’ needs”.

So how can employers adapt to new working conditions? The HR Director stress a need for flexibility to encourage productivity, and Recruiting Times list a number of different ways managers can keep remote and office-based workers engaged, including investing in technology such as online file-sharing and organisation platforms, and scheduling regular meetings to keep the workforce communicating.

One of the major changes will be the spaces we work in. The HR Director disclose how 86 per cent of businesses are changing offices to fit with employees’ changing requirements, with safety, community, productivity, and comfort now the top concerns. And, as Hania Arafit, Applied Research Consultant at Steelcase, the company who conducted the research, discusses, “old offices won’t work for the new reality of hybrid working”.

This is likely to impact on the Recruitment sector, as employers must be mindful of the needs of their employees.

Whereas some may request to continue working from home full time to provide childcare, others will want to be back to the office full time because they are suffering from burnout caused by working remotely.

It’s been reported that 87% of companies are now planning to offer flexible working patterns to their employees, as opposed to on 38% who considered it in April 2020.

This could also impact the recruitment process. If companies don’t have the ability to make their offices open plan or suitable for hybrid working, their current workforce, as well as potential recruits, may decide to work elsewhere. And with the UK currently facing a “the most severe shortage of job candidates on record” (as reported by The London Economic), this could be a big problem for employers, unless they are able to quickly adapt their workspaces to make them hybrid friendly. And this is where IT departments once again become crucial.

What is the impact on IT?

As we discussed in our blog on hybrid meeting, IT services are very much at the forefront of delivering this digital transformation. But as well as equipping the workforce with the new technology to enable both remote and office working, they will also have to adapt to the new office ergonomics to ensure hybrid working is also available everywhere and for everyone.

There’ll be an increased need for wireless technology in all spaces, including mobiles potentially replacing landlines and requiring internet connectivity, as well as new and developing technologies such as VR and AI to adapt to. On top of this, IT departments need to ensure all technology is distributed fairly to, as The HR Director discusses, maintain the productivity and harmony of the workforce. Managers will need to ensure that neither those working remotely, nor those working in the office, are prioritised over each other.

IT departments will once again be of vital importance to change both the technology used for hybrid working, and the spaces it’s going to be used in.

Are you a company that has adopted a hybrid method of working? We’d love to hear from you. Get in contact to let us know how you’re adapting, and the role IT is playing in your digital workplace transformation.