The six big things we've learned about hybrid work so far - Deepstash

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Hybrid Work Is A Moving Target

Hybrid Work Is A Moving Target

  • Hybrid work uptake is very different within companies.
  • There's really no one-size-fits all model across a business.
  • Companies embracing hybrid work have made many different moves, some requiring as few as a single day at the HQ, with others asking for four (often in more rigid industries, such as finance and consulting).
  • In a move for balance, many companies have tried policies bringing people back three days per week with two remote days (3-2) or two office days and three remote days.

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Each Worker Has Different Needs

Each Worker Has Different Needs

  • What an ideal work set-up looks like for one worker couldn’t be a worse fit for another.
  • It’s nearly impossible to design a fully inclusive hybrid work plan.
  • There's still a lot we don't know.
  • Both companies and workers are still in relatively early days.
  • Researchers, too, still don't have meaningful data to be meaningful data and conclusions to draw.

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The Changing Purpose Of The Office

The Changing Purpose Of The Office

Earlier in the pandemic, experts speculated that hybrid work would change not only what we used the office for, but also how it physically looked.

Several companies say they are updating their offices to suit new hybrid models, including creating team-focused spaces, collaborative areas for those oh-so-touted watercooler chats and better technology integration for things like hybrid video calls and presentations. In the hybrid-work world, head-down, focus tasks are for home, while the office is meant to be a centralised gathering place to combat the isolation of working on one’s own. 

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A Strange New Experiment

A Strange New Experiment

Both companies and workers are still in relatively early days of this strange new experiment – and researchers, too, still don’t have meaningful longitudinal data to be able to definitively draw conclusions.

Even when the research is robust, it may still be difficult to make broad, sweeping generalisations, since what works in a hybrid environment is so personal to each employee and business. In other words, there’s still a lot to learn – and it’s not even clear when, or if, we’ll know it.

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Boisterous and Sensitive Workers

Boisterous and Sensitive Workers

It will be a while until workers are back in stable routines that enable them to restore good habits and cultivate behaviours that are correctly calibrated to the new role of the office.

With a focus on socialization, many colleagues are boisterous in ways they haven’t been in the past, leaving workers who still have to get individualized work done in inhospitable situations annoyed and frustrated, to say the least.

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The Effect Of An Impending Recession

The levers of workplace power could shift back to bosses, which could fundamentally alter how companies form and enact hybrid policies. And, if the labour market contracts amid a recession, it’s impossible to know if the remote-work window will close, meaning workers could find themselves back in offices even more than they are now.

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A Diverse Emotional Impact For Hybrid Work

A Diverse Emotional Impact For Hybrid Work

For some people, hybrid work provides a much-needed emotional boost. Employees who’ve been sorely missing human interaction are finding themselves recharged when they’re back with colleagues whose faces they haven’t seen in months. This has especially been the case for younger employees or those without children, some of whom have seen their wellbeing decline while working in isolation. Hybrid is also a welcome change for workers who’ve been stuck in poor living situations, or who’ve never met their colleagues, like many members of Gen Z.

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Wanted: A Fully Inclusive Hybrid Plan

Wanted: A Fully Inclusive Hybrid Plan

What an ideal work set-up looks like for one worker couldn’t be a worse fit for another – and it’s virtually impossible to design a policy that accounts for every situation (and, no, fully remote work isn’t a universal panacea, either). In some hybrid work environments, nascent back-to-work policies are leaving some people behind, such as immunocompromised workers and those with long Covid as well as parents – and many people within these groups are having to take tough decisions about their careers.

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