The Post-Pandemic Future of Work Could Be Hybrid

By Frank-Jürgen Richter

May 23, 2021

The pandemic-induced lockdowns led to an almost overnight change in how millions worked. Offices were closed and individuals who could work remotely, were immediately working from the safety of their homes. The transition to remote working was possible on account of technology uptake and the use of software or applications that enabled virtual meetings.

Switching from office- to home-working showed that businesses can adapt as workers embraced new digital methods for their business and personal lives. Are all these changes beneficial to individuals and to businesses? How do we address emotional problems arising from enforced isolation? How will home-working be accepted post-pandemic?

Horasis is organizing the Horasis Global Meeting on 08 June 2021 to deliberate on such issues that plague the future. The one-day virtual event will see participation from governments, businesses, academia, and the media to deliberate on pressing issues and arrive at a consensus that works for all.

Advantages of Remote Work

Remote work enabled numerous individuals greater control over their work-life balance. In fact, an added advantage was the elimination of a commute, and savings on time spent in dropping and picking up children from school. Since schools were also conducting classes remotely, it all seemed a win-win situation for working adults, or so it seemed at first glance.

Workers who needed to move to faraway places for employment were able to benefit from remote work too. First, they were able to now work from their homes. Second, many were actually able to access a broader range of job opportunities they otherwise may not have been able to consider during normal times. Geographical location was no longer a hindrance when it came to evaluating employment opportunities. This also spurred the creation of ‘digital nomads’ – a subset comprising workers usually in tech-based roles. They have the luxury of working from any location so long as they have access to high-speed internet. Certain countries are even positioning themselves as havens for digital nomads in a bid to boost their local economies.

Work from home also leads to considerable monetary savings, both for employers and employees. In addition, there is also a significant positive environmental impact on account of less vehicular emissions. However, remote working does also pose several challenges. Numerous individuals acknowledge that forced isolation has delivered more detrimental impacts than boost their work-life balance.

The Flipside to Remote Working

Attending a physical place of work creates a point of distinction in workers’ minds. Going from home to office and vice-versa creates a sense of transition between work and leisure. And this could actually prove better at ensuring a positive work-life balance. Working from home blurs the lines between work and off hours. In the process, many have reported feeling burnt out due to excessive hours spent working.

Furthermore, the physical office is often more than simply a place of work. It allows for relationships to be fostered, enables spontaneous huddles and for many, it caters to social and emotional needs too. Working from home, in contrast, completely eliminates the social aspect of work and in due course, this is detrimental to employees’ mental health. Human beings are social creatures, and to work in isolation is often against the very nature of normal functioning.

Productive remote work is also dependent on effective communication. In its absence, workflows are interrupted and teams find it difficult to collaborate with members despite the presence of technology enablers. Collaborating on team projects become difficult when recurring discussions are needed for completion of an assignment. In addition, remote work is also not favorable towards building a solid organizational culture. True, many businesses have transitioned to become entirely virtual operations but building a healthy culture often demands in-person communications.

Hybrid Could Be the Future

A complete remote work setup may not prove productive over the long term. Rather, organizations must evaluate a hybrid work model – a middle ground between remote work and the traditional form of attending a physical work place. With the pandemic showing no signs of abating, remote work and learning will continue to occupy center stage. However, organizations must ensure their employees wellbeing – both mentally and physically.

Supervisors or managerial staff must be trained to identify signs of mental distress among their teams. While the advantages of remote work are aplenty, many may not thrive in the setup. This requires mechanisms to ensure the vulnerable are not negatively affected, while ensuring business activities continue the best they can.

Photo Caption: Complete remote work can complicate work-life balance.