The pandemic was an unexpected accelerator of business considerations in many vital areas. It not only offered a glimpse of reality but gave us a peek into the future of work in the advancing digital age. Beyond the “hybrid” work arrangements, it facilitated an encounter with today’s and tomorrow’s economies and workforces.
While organizations settle on their return-to-work strategies, many opt to support a “hybrid” or “remote” work flexibility & work policy model that will authorize regular workweek to accommodate virtual working arrangements. While in some organizations full-time remote work is optional, others are opting for a dominant work model. Regardless of the return-to-work strategy, it is far-fetched that this re-entry will be limited to location policy.
Evolving Landscape of Hybrid Work
The work environment model in the post-pandemic world will face a new dimension. The old school way of traveling to and from office & home is about to experience a new face with technological development. A new hybrid work model is coming into being where one can operate beyond the closed doors of offices or homes.
The hybrid work culture is a drastic departure from the traditional model. Let’s dive deep into what a hybrid work model is and how it shapes the future of workplaces. As per the research report from Accenture, 83% of people articulated a hybrid work model as optimal- for it offers the ability to work between 25% and 75% of the time.
Why is the hybrid workplace mode so appealing?
Well, it brings together the best of both worlds with both virtual and physical workplaces.
Not only that, but a hybrid workplace also supports better mental health, stronger work relationships, and enhances the productivity of the employees. The employees are likely to feel less burnout in a hybrid work model than those who worked entirely onsite or remotely.
Bored with Work from Home?
A new form of work environment awaits.
Referred to as ‘third space,’ it is not your office, not your home but somewhere in-between.
The Third Space
The “third space” is not the office and not the living space you are working from, but somewhere in between. The third space offers a flexible, affordable professional workroom on your doorstep. With the situation still uncertain, the third space concept will likely solve a bunch of problems.
A third space presents a fresh perspective and helps in specifically catering to workers. The space offers a quiet area to focus on or a conversation space to talk to the people you meet there.
- How can these realities fit together?
- How can it promote productivity in the new normal of work?
Yes, you heard it right.
The third space is referred to as a part of the long-term revolution in the workspace, which is both practical and affordable. While hybrid and flexible working offers many advantages to both employers and their staff, there is a downside.
The most considerable “distance bias” can be considered as one of the downfalls of the hybrid work model.
In a workplace context, the distance bias means that higher officials unaware of the phenomenon are likely to display a positive bias towards employees working in the same office environment, giving rise to unconscious discrimination.
The reports from the Office for National Statistics revealed that people who were working from home between 2012 to 2017 were less than half as likely to be promoted compared with their office-based colleagues. They were less likely to benefit from the learning and training.
There is growing popularity of the “third space” among employees and professionals. New worker expectations are also on the rise. Employees are opting for more work and location flexibility. The third space model will help resolve this issue as well.
Read more: 55% employees prefer hybrid working – Future of work 2021
Employee wellbeing at the center
The new hybrid environment will accentuate holistic employee well-being, support mental health, mitigate isolation, provide stress management norms, cultivate work-life boundaries, and support diversity & inclusion.
A hybrid workspace will serve as an ideal medium for reflecting and embodying holistic wellness. By reinforcing the connection with geographical location, organizations will be able to orient employees within their institution and inspire a sense of connection with the living world beyond.
Solving human problems
Studies show that a part of our brain that regulates motivation reacts better to newness than to familiar situations. This suggests that your daily working space can sap productivity if you spend too much time there. Working from a new space helps boost motivation and productivity and offers breaks from the everyday routine.
This approach has the potential to solve the social problems thrown up by remote and flexible working, where employees feel disconnected and disengaged from their colleagues. The hybrid work environments will enable employees to interact and aid in solving the “human connectedness” challenge.
As a value-added benefit, companies embracing the hybrid workspace conveys the message of trusting, supporting, and liberating their employees to accomplish the best work in a quality-driven work environment. The flexible workspace acts as a perk that supports employees’ performance.
Addressing the issues
Technology has a long way ahead before it makes your working day and social life comfortable.
With the COVID pandemic disrupting our work-life balance, employers still have their hands full dealing with the paradigm shifting from offices to a hybrid, flexible, or even remote working model. This indicates they are not spending considerable time pondering the whys and wherefores of the sudden shift in workflow and operation.
With people changing the way they work; technical issues are bound to arise. Companies need to adapt to the ever-evolving situations and updations in systems and architectures. They need to transform their existing premises and make them more collaborative spaces. Adapting HR policies and management styles needs to be addressed as well.
Third spaces appear to fit perfectly into this hybrid work environment and are shaping the new office landscape.
Read more: “The Pandemic Has Changed Everything“: 5 Big Predictions for 2022
The Future of Work is Hybrid
COVID-19 has transformed the way of working along with technological adoption. Working from the office or home can lead to a decline in productivity, thus hampering your performance in your organization.
But there seems to be a solution.
The future of work will now be centered around your work and not from where you do it.
Designing a Hybrid Future
Companies are opening up to incorporate the hybrid dimensions outlined to build work environments that drive and support the nature of work today and into the future. Frontier technologies like data analytics, AI, machine learning, etc., are empowering companies to inculcate trends and behaviors.
With pandemic uncertainty still prevailing and things continuing to flow, the power of hybrid design will certainly create a meaningful and lasting change for employees. The hybrid model will offer a healthier, more adaptable environment supporting the newly autonomous workforce as we navigate the new normal.
While employees are currently paying for their own third space visits, including the cost as a part of employee benefits packages can prove to be the right step in retaining staff in 2022 and beyond. Companies need to reimagine the future workforce to facilitate productivity from anywhere to adapt to the new, hybrid working lives.
One question still prevails-
Will an accessible and hybrid environment bring people together, or are we better off working in connections and engagement?
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