The move in the way we work in the last two years have been significant. Many people believe work will never be the same – given the shifts in where work happens and how it gets done. And many would argue this is a good thing—with a greater appreciation for the challenges and rewards of work, there is the opportunity to be more intentional about how work works best.
Hybrid work has pros and cons for sure. This I continue to explore with clients through coaching sessions. Employees like being home in their slippers, but may feel disconnected from their colleagues. Or they appreciate avoiding a commute, but work has intruded on their personal life because it’s always present in your home. Overall though, hybrid work offers the best of both worlds: The opportunity to work at home, in remote locations or in the office based on what you need to accomplish and your logistics for the day.
So, what are the best aspects of hybrid work and remote work? And what might be worth protecting—as work continues to adjust to conditions in the future? Here, I believe, are the biggest benefits for work which are best kept:
In the work-life equation, life is an important element. Hybrid work – which, by definition, has included more remote work time – has allowed people to embrace life more fully. Avoiding the commute has meant people can potentially get more sleep by setting the alarm a little later in the morning, or they can engage more immediately with family when the last meeting wraps up for the day. In addition, being home has meant that many people can access nature more, participating in a meeting while walking in a nearby park, or enhance their fitness by jumping on their bike during a break in their daily schedule.
Remote work has offered efficiencies, and these result in more flexibility to do more of what means the most for people, whether that’s related to health, family, or the like. Overall, the benefit is in people being able to use their time for what means the most to them.
Increased quality of work
Hybrid work has motivated many employers to improve offices because they know they need to attract people away from their homes. The office must ‘earn the commute’ by providing enough benefits that people are willing to make the trip in. The most successful employers are investing in workplaces that work better for people than they did before.
Multiple locations for work – home, remote locations, or office locations – also offer the benefit of greater choice which in turn lead to improving people’s sense of autonomy, empowerment, and engagement. With more choice, people can do more focused work. In the past, it may have been tough to find places to do deep thinking. But hybrid work allows people with quiet places at home to really focus, or people without a moment of peace at home to choose a meeting room in an office location to get contemplative work done.
For many, hybrid work has also been the driver of better technology. Companies had to provide more laptops, second monitors, or even more training on tech- making tools more available and more accessible to more people.
Tough times have created the need for more creativity, and this has made people better problem solvers and innovators. People have had to figure out how to solve a difficult customer problem working together with colleagues in multiple locations, often bothinside and outside of the office. All of this has necessitated new ways for collaborating, new technology for connecting, new norms for communicating, and new ways of thinking through potential solutions.
People have also had to think more independently. When you’re working remotely, it’s impossible to lean over and rely on a colleague for advice. Of course, it’s still possible to message or reach out remotely, but the immediacy of help has been reduced, and this has promoted more independence in terms of thinking through the right approach, seeking the best information, and figuring things out individually.
Typically relationships are strengthened when people go through hard times, and the last couple of years certainly qualify. For many, remote work has created distance, but it has also created the opportunity to connect, empathises and to share experiences and advice.
In addition, when you can’t interact with people as easily – for example the water cooler moments – it causes you to be more intentional about relationships. People are setting up 121 meetings in order to maintain links, and they are more purposeful in their communication – knowing how important it is to sustain their networks.