Hybrid work: The great disruption

A woman doing hybrid work participates in a conference call using Ottie. Ottie keeps you connected, even if your broadband goes down.

As early as January 2021,hybrid work was being referred to as the next great disruption.

Looking back, hybrid work was inevitable with 66% of business leaders on the brink of major changes to accommodate what employees wanted. The best of both worlds: 73% of employees wanted flexible remote options while at the same time 67|% wanted more in-person work or collaboration.1 During the pandemic lockdowns, people became more siloed. Some of this came down to the limitations of technology.10% suffered from an inadequate connection, many more suffered from sporadic disconnections. The workflow of the individual employee is interrupted and the ability of their team to collaborate is impacted as well.

With hybrid working, office space now extends to the home setup. Companies have had to take more responsibility for employee home offices. This is essential to making remote and hybrid workers feel included — particularly for those who are early career, and those with fewer resources.

Hybrid Work: What have we learned?

Fast forward two years from February 2021 and we had data to support hybrid working and an understanding of where the often cited productivity boosts came from.

Americans and Europeans save about 70 minutes a day by spending less time getting ready and less time commuting. About 30 minutes of that time is spent working more.

If an employee works from home two days per week, they work about one hour more per week. In a 40-hour week, that’s about 2.5 percent. The employee gets an extra 40 minutes a day, on average, which they spend on child care, leisure or whatever they choose.2

Focused work is better done in a quiet environment. The productivity uplift is often 2 to 3 percent.

Those two things added together provide a 3 to 5 percent improvement in productivity. This is not fully remote work. This is well organised, hybrid work.

What about fully remote?

Fully remote has some major upsides. It saves on office space. You can basically get rid of it, and that’s 20 to 30 percent of cost. That is a big benefit.

You can hire nationally, or even internationally. You can put numbers on these two benefits and those are big, big numbers. You may reduce your total cost by 50 percent.

Another benefit is keeping employees happy. People who work from home two days a week value this the same as an 8 percent pay increase, which is an enormous amount of money. Post pandemic, employers are increasing pay by about 7 percent to avoid the ‘great resignation’. If you then force everyone back into the office and your rivals are letting employees work in a hybrid way, you need to add an extra 8 percent to salaries to compete. Nobody is doing that. That’s why hybrid working has become dominant.

What work can be done remotely?

Computer based office work is the largest area in advanced economies, accounting for roughly one-third of employment. Nearly all potential remote work is within this area.

To determine how extensively remote work might persist, 2,000 tasks in some 800 occupations in eight focus countries were examined. Considering only remote work that can be done without a loss of productivity, about 20 to 25 percent of the workforce in advanced economies could work from home between three and five days per week.

Some work that technically can be done remotely is best done in person. Negotiations, critical business decisions, brainstorming sessions, providing sensitive feedback and onboarding new employees are examples of activities that may lose some effectiveness when done remotely.

Fully remote work also offers companies the opportunity to enrich their diversity by hiring workers who, for family and other reasons, were unable to relocate to the superstar cities where talent, capital, and opportunities concentrated before the pandemic.

Conclusion

Hybrid work avoids the pitfalls of fully remote work but can only be effective if it is well organised. This includes ensuring that remote workers have reliable connections to their office and their team. Ottie helps organisations ensure the productivity and satisfaction of their hybrid teams by eliminating home Internet connectivity issues. Ottie can also provide a speed boost and has optimisations for video conferencing.

References:

1https://ms-worklab.azureedge.net/files/reports/hybridWork/pdf/WTIVisualGuide.pdf

2https://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/forward-thinking/forward-thinking-on-how-to-get-remote-working-right-with-nicholas-bloom

3https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/the-future-of-work-after-covid-19

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