HomeEmployee ExperienceWill hybrid working models survive 2024?

Will hybrid working models survive 2024?

  • 5 Min Read

There has been a push for businesses around the world to get back to the office. Employees have, in many instances, rejected this rhetoric – will the debate continue into 2024?

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The return to office.

Senior management propaganda? Or a real driver of productivity? This has been the debate rumbling through the global workforce this year as a growing number of businesses mandated their workers back to the office.

In 2019, the prevailing belief was that remote work would hinder onboarding and compromise security and company culture. Managers often used the excuse that allowing one employee to work from home would necessitate granting the same privilege to everyone.

However, the global pandemic of 2020 forced a paradigm shift, revealing the numerous benefits of remote and hybrid work arrangements. The reduction in commuting time improved productivity and work-life balance, while employees sought more meaningful and fulfilling work experiences.

The resistance to change from employers who clung to traditional office-centric beliefs contributed to the “great resignation,” as employees sought better employee experiences and meaning in their work. However, in 2023, attitudes shifted once again, with big businesses pushing for a return to the office, contradicting employee preferences for remote work.

Workplace trends in 2024: What to expect

Pushing the return to work

In recent months, there has been a noticeable push by big businesses to bring employees back to the office. Companies like VMWare, previously known for their remote-friendly culture, have seen a shift in expectations after being acquired by Broadcom.

The CEO of Broadcom, Hock Tan, wasted no time demanding that employees return to the workplace. This push for in-office presence is not limited to the tech industry, as even Lord Hague in the UK has expressed concerns over a reluctance to return to work and its perceived link to laziness.

The tension between employee preference for remote work and employer insistence on in-office presence reveals a disconnect in workplace expectations. While CEOs attempt to regain control over their workforce, employees are increasingly turning away from companies that do not provide flexibility.

For instance, Amazon’s strict return-to-office policy has resulted in significant resignations. This discrepancy between employee desires and employer demands is further highlighted by a survey revealing that 68% of full-time workers prefer hybrid work schedules. However, despite these preferences, 90% of companies plan to implement return-to-work policies by the end of 2024.

The conversation surrounding flexible work arrangements often focuses on remote and hybrid models for office workers, neglecting the needs of deskless frontline workers. These workers, essential in industries such as hospitality, healthcare, retail, and manufacturing, often feel undervalued and overworked.

Their preferences differ from those of office workers, with a greater emphasis on choosing workdays, increased vacation time, and a shorter workweek. Recognizing and accommodating the flexibility needs of frontline workers is crucial for maintaining an inclusive and productive work environment.

The evolution of work: Reimagining the employee experience

The employee experience has emerged as a premium currency in the workplace. Organisations that lack dedicated roles to curate and enhance this aspect may struggle to retain talent and foster a positive work environment. Employees prioritise their overall well-being, including their mental, physical, and financial health.

Companies that offer avenues for employees to thrive in these areas are more likely to attract and retain top talent. Leaders must understand the perspectives of their workforce and align benefits with their genuine needs and values to create a harmonious and productive workplace for all.

The pros and cons

When considering the choice between remote, hybrid, and office-only work models, it is essential to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, as each option presents its own set of benefits and challenges.

Factors such as collaboration, productivity, work-life balance, and employee satisfaction should guide organizations in determining the best approach for their unique circumstances and objectives.

Remote work offers numerous advantages, including increased flexibility, reduced commuting time, and improved work-life balance. Employees appreciate the autonomy and freedom that remote work provides, enabling them to focus on their tasks without the distractions of the office.

However, remote work can also lead to feelings of isolation and reduced social interaction, making it important for companies to find ways to foster a sense of community and connection among remote employees.

Hybrid work combines the benefits of remote and in-office work, providing employees with the flexibility to choose when and where they work. This model allows for a better work-life balance, reduces commuting time, and offers opportunities for collaboration and social interaction in the office.

However, it can also create challenges in coordinating schedules and maintaining a cohesive company culture. Companies must establish clear guidelines and communication channels to ensure effective collaboration in a hybrid work environment.

Office-only work emphasizes in-person collaboration and fosters a strong sense of community among employees. It allows for immediate feedback, spontaneous interactions, and the building of relationships.

However, it may limit flexibility and work-life balance for employees, especially those with long commutes or personal obligations. Office-only work also requires significant investment in office space and infrastructure.

Models utilized in 2024

While there is a push from big businesses to return to the office, workplace experts believe that most organizations will adopt a more flexible approach in the future. The concept of spending five days a week in the office is becoming outdated, as companies recognize the value of remote work and the benefits it brings.

A hybrid work model, where employees have a mix of in-office and remote days, is likely to become the norm for many organizations.

Transparency and clear communication will be crucial in implementing hybrid work arrangements. Companies should consider the preferences and needs of their employees, offering a structured hybrid model rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. This flexibility can be a significant recruiting advantage, as top talent increasingly values work-life balance and the option to work remotely.

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