‘The New Normal’ – aka the post-pandemic world – has been a widely-discussed topic, and with good reason. The pandemic brought many changes in our lives; lots of challenges and lots of opportunities, the nature of which are still unravelling. One adjustment is the increase and variety of our work flexibility.
In a 2022 Mckinsey survey, 87% of respondents said they would choose to work flexibly if given the option. However, despite its rise in popularity, many of us haven’t yet mastered ‘hybrid’ and are still learning to make it work in the best way possible.
This Future of Work study found that 83% of respondents believe hybrid is the optimal way of work moving forward. Hybrid workers report better mental health, better work relationships and less burnout in contrast to fully on-site or fully remote workers, which all contributes to increased productivity (Castaneda, 2022).
The current norm for hybrid working in the UK typically involves employees working three days in the office and two days remotely, but this ratio actually varies among hybrid workers, as the average preferred number of days in the office is now deemed to be two (Aksoy et al., 2022).
We can also see differences in perception and definition between Hybrid Working and Flexible Working. As we look to provide individuals with equal treatment, the line between encouraging workplace standard practice and letting employees make their own decisions regarding their work environment appears to be an increasingly important challenge for companies.
A flexible working model allows employees to work from anywhere, at any time, in any way, making work ‘something to do’ rather than just ‘a place to go’. This flexibility, or equitable way of working, which was one of the key discussion points of this year’s ABP conference, is now possible due to digitalization, questioning the Industrial Age’s 9-5, 8-hours-a-day working model.
The digital world’s flexibility brings the opportunity to hire from a bigger pool and to make our employees happier, as they can prioritize their lives according to their individual needs, without negatively impacting (or perhaps even increasing) their work productivity.
Despite the advantages of the flexible working models, or the New Normal’s one-size-does-not-fit-all theme, it also brings some challenges. Whilst the preference of some might be working from home, it is not the case for about 30% of the population, as Dr Nicola Millard has discussed.
Every individual has different needs and expectations of what a workplace should bring, and what an ideal work environment looks like for maximized productivity. Technology, colleagues and a routine may be excellent motivators for a mainly on-site employee, but safety, quality of life and freedom are motivators for remote work, an Accenture study found. Therefore, adapting an individual’s roles to preferences should be a key priority of employers, which can be time and energy-consuming.
Helping an individual understand both their work style and preferred work environment can give them the tools and awareness to determine what working model is the most suitable for them.
Through our Work Roles reports, employees can find indications of the types of roles they are likely to lean towards and help to leverage those strengths. By providing additional information on how to work with other roles and how to leverage each other’s strengths, these accurate, highly-valid indications, provide important information and can be shared/explored to ensure employees thrive in any kind of work model or environment. For instance, HR professionals and leaders can help build an adaptable workplace by accommodating the differing preferences of individuals, leveraging strengths and mitigating hurdles; and only then can we truly begin to thrive in the ‘New Normal’.
Find Out More
If you’d like to know more, check out our report Harnessing Hybrid Working: A Guide to More Effective Collaboration.