What is the future of hybrid working?

Experts weigh in on the future of hybrid working and remote work teams. What trends can we look forward to in 2023 in hybrid working?

What is the future of hybrid working?

The last two and a half years have been spent adjusting to the new hybrid work norm. As we enter 2023, we look to the future of hybrid working and what trends will dominate as hybrid work evolves to its next stage of maturity.

Hybrid work is no longer solely about basic flexible working arrangements, instead, it has become a culture in itself.

As it shifts out of its experimental phase, what can we expect from the new norm? What are the latest trends innovative companies are looking to focus on when it comes to their hybrid working policies?

How has hybrid working changed the world?

Covid jolted us into a new way of working. Organisations were forced to make dramatic adjustments and reimagine the workplace. Eventually, these companies even learned to embrace the new way of working that was previously considered impossible.

Pre-COVID, there was an unhealthy focus placed on presenteeism and office politics; organisations are having to reimagine their values and cultures in order to keep up with the changing times.

Previously overlooked aspects such as employees’ mental health are now being looked at as key areas to improve.

As a result of the shift to hybrid working, there are now far more studies being done into remote working and how companies can optimise productivity.

We’re going to take a look at what this new research reveals about the future of hybrid work as well as broader work trends we can look forward to in 2023 and beyond.

Including:

  1. Redefining Cultures
  2. Trusting Remote Workers Are Productive
  3. Shift To A Four-Day Work Week
  4. Cyber Security Focus
  5. Automation Changing The Manager’s Role
  6. Embracing Connection
  7. Mental And Physical Health
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Further Reading: What Is Hybrid Working?

Redefining Cultures

A 2022 global study by Gartner found that just 25% of remote or hybrid knowledge workers feel connected to their company’s culture. This is important because the same study showed that more-connected workers perform up to 37% better than others and are also 36% more likely to stay with a company.

With traditional ways of building a culture via physical proximity disappearing, leaders would be wise to think of new strategies to develop and maintain workplace culture.

Instead of seeing remote work as a hindrance to creating culture, leaders can instead, embrace the fresh opportunity they have been given to create a new culture.

Pre-pandemic, culture and connectedness was expected to happen naturally through repeated interactions and close proximity. This will no longer work in hybrid work environments, but some experts suggest that culture can be created via emotional proximity.

Alexia Cambon, a research director in Gartner’s HR practice and a principal author of the study, suggests leaders should start by auditing their company’s work processes. “Say you want your firm to be innovative, forward-thinking, and fast-paced,” Cambon says. “If your methodologies are bureaucratic and your systems have constant technical glitches, that will undermine the culture.”

"Say you want your firm to be innovative, forward-thinking, and fast-paced. If your methodologies are bureaucratic and your systems have constant technical glitches, that will undermine the culture." Alexia Cambon

Culture is so central to Hybrid Working, entire books are being published on the topic to help shape the future of work.

Trusting Remote Workers Are Productive

Despite numerous studies showing the opposite to be true, there are still managers who believe in-office employees perform better than those working from home. These false beliefs are fast becoming outdated and could end up being harmful in the workplace.

The hybrid work model isn’t going away and old-fashioned leaders need to stop obsessing over whether people are being productive while working from their kitchen and instead focus more on the benefits that remote work is producing. Happier, more satisfied employees, who as a result, are more productive.

Leaders should focus their time on how better to improve the hybrid work model, ensuring best practices are in place to maximise well-being and productivity.

Shift To A Four-Day Work Week

2023 will see support for a four-day workweek continue to blossom. In the UK there is already an exciting pilot study underway with over 70 companies and 3,300 employees involved. And the UK is not alone, other countries including Australia, Canada, and Ireland, are also carrying out shorter workweek experiments.

The best part about the four-day workweek is that 95% of companies taking part stated that productivity has stayed the same or even improved since starting the experiment.

A four-day workweek could be used by companies as a recruitment incentive for time-strapped workers. As well as saving time, employees will enjoy the cost-saving benefits of childcare.

A radical idea that is fast gaining momentum, could your company be next to adopt this strategy?

Cyber Security Focus

The shift to remote work grew the giant that is information security, and there are no signs for this growth to slow down. The worldwide information security industry is expected to top $366.1 billion by 2028.

Cybersecurity is going to be a top priority to improve in 203, as confidential information can no longer be handed over physically or couriered through the city. It is becoming more and more common to send confidential documents via technology, and that means there needs to be top security to protect them

More than just emailing over private files, there is also the issue of data security. Large organisations are working with millions if not billions of customers' personal details via remote locations, and if these organisations want to maintain the trust of their valued customers, they will need to invest in top cybersecurity to safeguard data from dangerous cyber threats.

Automation Changing The Manager’s Role

2023 will see the advent of yet more automation in the workplace, leaving remote managers with more time on their hands to redefine their roles.

Instead of wasting time on menial admin tasks, like scheduling meetings, monitoring output or approving leave requests, new technology can save time by completing these tasks efficiently and without human interaction.

With their new freed-up time, managers in 2023 can look to build closer connections and mentor team members.

One of a manager’s primary roles is to ensure employees are completing their jobs to the best of their abilities, part of that role is ensuring job satisfaction. As hybrid work becomes even more mainstream, the role of a manager as the first point of contact for any issues related to job satisfaction is also becoming more important.

They are also going to be looked at as the common denominator in building connections between team members, managers will be there to build relationships. Managers need to be available to help solve employees’ problems and be their support if they need it.

This new development in the role will require extra training on interpersonal relationships in the workplace in order to culture a mindset shift and develop deeper, more meaningful connections with employees that should add value to employees’ experience in the workplace.

Embracing Connection

It can’t all fall on managers’ shoulders to foster connection though, leaders should be rethinking the physical and virtual workspace as a way to cultivate relationships.

Work is seen as the modern-day tribe, and in a post-pandemic world, people are craving spaces where they can build deep bonds. Companies would be smart to capitalise on that by introducing social areas into the office. This would encourage hybrid workers back into the office.

Bars, rooftop terraces, and cafe-style spaces can all be incorporated into the modern workplace while activities like Friday Night Beers and group exercise classes can also be used as tools to encourage employees to connect with team members.

Also, giving people the solutions they need so they can curate the type of day they want in the office by being able to see who will be there and what topics will be worked on is key. This is our mission at DuoMe, no more dud days in the office.

Mental And Physical Health

2023 could finally be the year employee wellness is prioritised from a physical and mental health standpoint. This is, in large part, in response to the shift to hybrid work and a large majority of workers working alone a lot of the time. Employees' reports of feeling isolated or being more sedentary than normal have all contributed to companies' priorities shifting and taking a more proactive approach to employee wellbeing.

Since COVID-19, over 85% of organisations have introduced at least one new offering to support mental health and 50% of organisations have introduced new physical activity programs.

Chart of companies offering well being services to employees in response to covid

There has been a huge shift in the prioritisation of company spending, in 2018 only 66% of companies said they were going to invest more in mental health, however, by 2022, over 90% were going to be investing more. Employees can look forward to more of this in 2023.

Forward-thinking organisations appreciate the benefits of investing in the mental and physical well-being of their employees. Improving retention, productivity and job performance as well as decreasing any health-related costs.

Final Words

As little as four years ago, most of these 2023 hybrid work trends would have been seen as impossible wishes, but the pandemic has shown us how quickly workplace trends can shift in response to changing environments.

If organisations want to keep up with the changing times and hold on to their employees, they would be wise to embrace the change and look to the future.

About Author

Graham Joyce is co-founder of DuoMe, a flexible working advocate and a frequent panellist/commentator on the issues of flexibility or hybrid working.


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