Hybrid work: a new era of work?

The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly changed the way we think about work. Before the emergence of this virus, working from home was a luxury for a small group of people, mostly business owners. Since the start of last year, almost everyone except healthcare and essential workers have had to embrace remote working. As the pandemic is slowly brought under control and vaccines continue to be rolled out, companies are slowly reintroducing office work. Many have concerns about their safety upon return, while others do not want to give up the luxury of working from the comfort of their own homes. As the Wall Street Journal reports, we are apparently on the cusp of “hybrid work”. Mandatory workdays, coupled with remote working, would give employees and businesses the best of both worlds, while slowly making office work feel like normal. But reporter Chip Cutter writes that it may be the most messy work period yet. – Jarryd Neves

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Mondays and Fridays compulsory. Unused offices and crowded conference rooms. Employers and workers navigate back to offices.

It took months for bosses and employees to adjust to remote working during the pandemic. The next era of work could be even more complicated.

Companies are setting new rules and setting expectations for hybrid work some workers are coming back and others remain absent from their functions. AT JPMorgan Chase JPM -1.03% & Co., employees on some shifts can schedule work days from home, but not Mondays or Fridays. In the reopened Salesforce.com Inc. offices, Thursday is proving to be the most popular day in the office, creating high demand for meeting rooms and collaboration spaces, and prompting the company to rethink the design of its offices.

Executives at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP have expressed concern that workers who stay remote could become second-rate businesses, falling behind in promotions and payroll, the company therefore plans to monitor the advancement rates of office and remote staff to ensure that no one is left behind.

After months of discussions, large employers of Humana Inc. in Louisville, Ky., at Nike Inc. near Portland, Ore., say they’re cementing plans to return to corporate complexes after Labor Day – in some cases easing capacity restrictions – while promising employees a certain flexibility in their workplace.

Covid-19 is not the only factor weighing on the workplace. Many managers are now worried about a brain drain of their ranks. Some hiring companies say they can’t find knowledge workers willing to walk into an office five days a week, according to general managers, human resources managers and recruiters.

OnSolve LLC, a software company based in Alpharetta, Ga., Is hiring for approximately 90 new positions this year. Chief Executive Mark Herrington says he can’t wait for office life to get back to normal, but a number of candidates, especially in technical and engineering roles, have insisted on being able to work from home at the least part of the time.

“It’s really become a requirement if you’re looking for top talent,” says Herrington. “These people are like, ‘Hey, if I can’t have a kind of hybrid work environment, then I probably won’t be interested.’”

Research has shown that most employees prefer some form of flexibility in their workplace. An upcoming survey of 9,000 workers by Accenture PLC found that 83% of respondents considered a hybrid workplace to be optimal, which means companies need to quickly understand new work habits.

Saber Corp. , the travel technology company that powers major hotel and airline reservation systems, has shrunk to one building from a four-building campus in a Dallas suburb. Saber says he plans to bring about 25% of office workers back on site at least three days a week.

The company asked its thousands of workers about their preferences, and spoke at length with executives about what worked – and what didn’t – over the past year. The result: About 25% of Saber’s 7,500 employees are likely to return to a standard office work week, says Shawn Williams, Saber’s director of human resources. About 30%, or 2,250 people, will stay away, and the remaining 45% will come to the office to collaborate with peers one or two days a week.

Sorting which belongs to each category It takes work, says Williams, adding that who stays home and who comes in – and when – depends on the job title and manager’s approval. Even Saber executives who assumed that workers would be more engaged in an office came to conclude that a flexible approach better suited the new realities of employees, many of whom are caring for children or aging parents, or have found a lower cost of living further. Saber Headquarters.

“The workforce of the future will not step in to create a spreadsheet. You will do a great job of creating a spreadsheet at home, ”says Williams. “You come to be able to collaborate with your team, work on projects, brainstorm, be part of our R&D engine.”

Tope Awotona, founder and CEO of Calendly, an Atlanta-based company that makes planning software, says he’s hiring in places like Georgia, Florida, and Texas, and plans to give people the opportunity to enter. or not in an office. It offers memberships to nearby coworking spaces, so they don’t have to work from home if they don’t want to.

“We want to be what we call a remote business, but not just a remote business,” he says. “We want to eliminate the expectation that anyone has to be in the office. All that matters to us is that you get your work done from anywhere, achieve your goals, and make yourself available. “

Jon Stross, co-founder of Greenhouse Software Inc., predicts that most companies will find it difficult to navigate hybrid work. Several years ago, the recruiting software vendor split some of its engineering teams between a New York office and remote locations.

“It didn’t work as well” as when everyone was remotely or worked together in the office, he said, adding that distributed employees complained of feeling left out while people who could easily meet at the office or to meet up with one another. a happy hour seemed to resolve issues with each other in person. Greenhouse has chosen to lead teams that are entirely remote or entirely in offices in cities like New York or San Francisco.

The company also claims that it is impossible for everyone to be in the same room all the time, so it has developed standards for meetings, for example, ensuring that office colleagues do not have parallel conversations that those who compose cannot hear. , Says Mr. Stross.

“There will be a bunch of unintended consequences that we will be grappling with,” he says of the new era of hybrid work. “It’s going to be a mess.”

JPMorgan Chase, whose CEO Jamie Dimon is particularly optimistic about desktops, recalled all U.S. employees in early July, but each business unit is designing different approaches, a spokesperson said.

A rule is emerging for some New York teams: They can choose a permanent day to work remotely each week, as long as it’s not Monday or Friday, according to someone familiar with the matter. Employees can request a second day remotely, which could be a Monday or Friday, as long as they request permission each week to work from home on one of those days, the person says.

In an open Salesforce office in Australia, less than a quarter of its individual offices are used by employees, while meeting spaces are very busy, especially at weekends. As the company reopens in the United States, it is developing more spaces for collaboration, says Brent Hyder, the company’s chief human resources officer.

“People do different things at the start of the week compared to the last part of the week” in a hybrid world, says Hyder. “Thursday is the new Monday.”

In addition to tracking staff career results in person and remotely, accounting and consulting giant PwC will frequently poll its staff to find out what is working and what is not, says Tim Ryan, its US president.

“We’ll make a lot of little mistakes, I can promise you that,” he said. “My goal is not to wake up in a year and find we made a big mistake.”

Write to Chip cutter at [email protected]

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