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Myths and realities of hybrid working

The best employee/s should be able to live wherever they live and have the flexibility to come into the office whenever they want. Agree?

A business meeting between executives. Image: Tim Sandle
A business meeting between executives. Image: Tim Sandle

With the return to office looming, those who have worked at home for a prolonged period during the pandemic may not be as keen as their employer to complete the commute and return to the office.

While some managers regard the functionality of working from home as something flawed by unproductive workers driving poor business results, the reality is of that it is an individual’s productivity determining success or failure – rather than their physical location.

Many polls reveal that employees have preferences for a hybrid work model. For example, one U.S. survey found that 95 percent of employees want flexibility in where and how they work and 96 percent of companies appear ready to allow it (as presented in Harvard Business Review).

However, instigating such a system will have an impact upon the quality culture of the workplace since shifting to a hybrid model is not an activity that can readily happen overnight.

In addition, there are some misconceptions are stalling companies in providing this type of flexibility for their employees. These have been  considered by Peter Jackson, CEO of Bluescape, a virtual learning and collaboration platform.

Jackson has curated the hybrid work issues for Digital Journal, and these are discussed in terms of ‘myths’ and ‘realities’, as interpreted by Jackson.

Myth #1: A hybrid workplace is more flexible

Reality: A hybrid model means employees are empowered to choose which days they will work from the office to be the most productive.

Myth #2: The future of work is a reduction of space

Reality: Companies will likely still have the same space, but they will use it differently. For example, employees will likely use the office space for collaboration, brainstorming, and to socialize with colleagues for real-time connection.

Myth #3: If you are not present physically, you will not be promoted

Reality: The best employee/s should be able to live wherever they live and have the flexibility to come into the office whenever they want, and companies should promote the best logical person for the job.

Myth #4: My existing tools are built for hybrid in mind

Reality: Hacking is a real concern for a hybrid environment. Just last year, 61% of malware was sent to remote workers through cloud applications. The reality is that most collaboration tools are not mature enough to handle security issues. The time is now to displace or increase budgets to secure hybrid workforces.

Myth #5: We’ve figured out hybrid work

Reality: We adapted to remote work, but we’ve done nothing to elevate the experience of remote collaborators. Additionally, hybrid doesn’t always equal work life balance, as employees still struggle with poor balance and high levels of stress and burnout.

Myth #6: Hybrid will enable the right community-vs-collaboration balance employees crave

Reality: You still need the right culture to engage face-to-face interaction — and more than ever, the right technology so that productivity can happen anywhere, especially as there will always be different people onsite at different times with different colleagues.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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