The COVID-19 surge indeed isn’t the first pandemic to hit the planet. But it is the first ever to do so in the digital age. Accordingly, companies have started to realize that work isn’t what we thought it would be.
Employers and employees are starting to open their minds to the idea of virtual or hybrid work, a movement that is sweeping across the globe. Accordingly, even as economies and borders slowly ease and open, businesses decide to close their office doors either partially or fully.
Hybrid and remote work are becoming a more commonly-used language in the professional world. But for those who don’t understand these work policies yet, these are what they mean.
Essentially, a hybrid working policy allows employees to work from home or in the office on an optional schedule or a predetermined one. This arrangement eliminates the need for bigger office spaces but still requires them nonetheless. Others have resorted to working in coworking spaces as an alternative. Over 51% of employees now want a hybrid work setup even after the pandemic ends.
A fully remote work setup, on the other hand, makes no specified need for office space as it removes it from the staffs’ option altogether. Companies can work from home, at the beach, in a coffee shop or anywhere they please.
While it seems like a farfetched concept for some, it works well for others. This kind of work policy isn’t a new setup as some companies have already been working virtually over the past decade. That number just might increase more with time.
So why make the shift even if the COVID-19 crisis eases up? First, there is a good share of benefits to allowing these work arrangements. Let’s look at some of the most common.
Productivity isn’t a shared sentiment for the overall population of professionals, but it is a fact for many. In December 2021, a study showed that 52% of companies reported becoming more productive after a prolonged shift to virtual work arrangements.
To some people, getting the chance to choose their work environments, avoid commutes, and work in pajamas helps some people get more done.
Employers save money on real estate leases, utilities, and shared office benefits like coffee, food, and water. Employees get to hold some of their dollars as well. By saving on transportation and gas costs, they can instead eat out more often.
Virtual or hybrid working advantages also include giving staff flexibility in their work hours or workplace. Flexibility allows the employees to feel relaxed and energetic as they can take any type of break to energize themselves. It can be a short walk, spending time with kids, or playing some exciting games like Solitaire or Sudoku.
If someone decides that working from Starbucks will give them more headspace, they can do that. If they want to work at 8:00 PM, no one needs to stay up or lend them a key.
The digital shift brought great opportunities to professionals in many ways. For instance, people can access the best online business degrees even if they’re housed in another country or continent. The same will be valid for work opportunities as virtual work opens up the door to a global workforce. For example, people can now outsource work to virtual assistants in developing areas or hire the best business development manager in Europe.
The virtual or hybrid revolution also increased the recruitment rate of freelance team members, which awards more entrepreneurial professionals in design, content writing, marketing, management, and other fields a chance to expand their career options by serving multiple companies.
As far as COVID-19 is concerned, the world isn’t out of the woods yet and probably might not be for a while. However, hybrid work models and remote setups provide health and safety protocols and ease up contamination rates in workplaces. It also keeps workers safe from other infectious diseases that could break out at work.
To give a face to the companies with hybrid work models or remote setups, let’s look at some of the most popular companies that have announced this shift.
Microsoft announced back in October 2020 that it would be permanently keeping its hybrid work setup for the foreseeable future.
“We recognize that some employees are required to be onsite, and some roles and businesses are better suited for working away from the worksite than others,” shares the company. “However, for most roles, we view working from home part of the time (less than 50%) as now standard – assuming manager and team alignment."
Setup: Remote First/Hybrid
Alphabet Inc’s daughter company, Google, has approved requests from 85% of their staff to work remotely or relocate to other cities even after offices fully re-open. The giant tech company has long been praised for providing its staff with workspaces that serve as a pride and joy. But even with that, things could change as more company staff worldwide switch to virtual work setups.
The large airline company British Airways now allows their staff to spend their working hours in their head office or at home depending on schedules and manager approval.
Airport operations will still stay active, but any work that has administrative bearing can be brought home as per the airline’s leaders.
Ford Motor Company shifted to remote work setups during the height of the COVID-19 spread. Now, its 30,000 employees worldwide will have an option to work from home indefinitely. Managers will also be allowed to approve flexible work hours as they deem fit.
Welcome to the hybrid world, Ford Motors.
Target’s headquarters occupies 1 million square feet on Minnesota’s 33-story skyscraper Target Plaza South. It still has ten years on its lease, but the company has said that employees who work in the building will not need to come to the office if unnecessary, despite that.
83% of employers report that they were able to shift to remote working successfully in 2021. This number is a significant uptick from the 73% the previous year. Still, not everyone can say this transition has been smooth sailing.
Employing a hybrid work model in 2021 and beyond involves selecting cloud-based tools, changing HR policies, developing new systems for accountability and reporting, and many other significant changes. Many companies are well underway to finish their technology due diligence to make the entire shift, but others are still in the process.
Despite the challenges, more companies are starting to say that the transition is worth it as more companies report plans of allowing hybrid work.
The future of work and office spaces looks very different today. We could be seeing a massive paradigm shift that will challenge the world’s biggest industries. The pandemic was a curse in every aspect, but there was a silver lining to it still. Now, small to large corporations see the promise and beauty of hybrid and work setups and look to embrace it as the norm rather than the exception.