It’s 2022, and the world has changed dramatically in just two years. In the wake of the global lockdowns as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the biggest changes was that many organisations and employees suddenly had to adapt to the idea of remote working. While it was a shock to companies who weren’t prepared for the sudden change, others fared better than expected – and even thrived.
Although the world is opening up again, Gartner Inc. forecasts that in 2022, 31% of all workers worldwide will still be working remotely. However, this includes “hybrid working”, where employees work remotely some of the time, and come into the office some of the time. This is not surprising: while there are benefits to having a physical office for things like morale and team management, there are also huge advantages to remote working, such as increased flexibility, reduced commuting time and a better work-life balance (for some!).
This was confirmed in a February 2021 report on the future of work after Covid by McKinsey, which predicts that around 20 to 25% of workforce in developed economy could engage in a permanent hybrid work situation in 2022. And, in their 2022 Employee Experience Trends Report, American experience management company Qualtrics confirmed the hybrid working trend: more than one in three of the 14 000 workers surveyed said they’d be more likely to search for a new job if they were required to return to the office full time.
So, with hybrid working likely here to stay, how will this affect remote working, as well as working trends in general in 2022?
5 Hybrid Working Trends in 2022
- A shift in location.
With a hybrid working structure in place, people are finding it possible to move out of larger cities to more remote suburbs and even towns with a longer commute into the office. Because with hybrid working the employee is commuting less frequently (or not at all if they’re working remotely full time), the added distance is more manageable. This is an excellent example of how remote working has a knock-on effect on other areas of employees’ lives.
- Companies will require less space.
An August 2020 survey of 278 executives by McKinsey found that on average, companies planned to reduce office space by 30%. With a hybrid situation in place, many companies are planning on using flexible workplaces to accommodate employees coming into the office on rotating days. For this reason, they may require less square meterage of desk space on average – even if they retain the same number of employees.
- Different space layouts.
As hybrid working demonstrates, some work is still best done in person, including things like negotiations, brainstorming sessions, onboarding new employees and making critical team decisions. For all these functions, as well as for general company morale, the future workplace has more collaborative spaces than before could be critical in meeting these in-person needs. This then affects the type of office spaces that companies will be looking to secure. Coworking company WeWork talks about an agile work environment replacing the traditional office, where flexible office design gives employees the autonomy to choose where in the office they want to work – whether it’s open plan spaces, quiet zones or breakout spaces.
- Employers need to provide better in-office and remote work experiences.
The Qualtrics survey mentioned above found that only 30% of employees said their experience with their company’s technology exceeds their expectations, and only 34% felt their experience working at their office exceeded their expectations. Most likely, this relates to the fact that offices are no longer just places to work – after all, we know we can do that at home. Rather they’re increasingly becoming places to collaborate and socialise, which are things that simply aren’t as effective while remote working on a Zoom call.
- Less business travel.
Because of the widespread adoption and acceptance of videoconferencing, companies are finding that business travel will be less frequently required as it was before, leading to further cost cutting. The McKinsey study mentioned above found that around 20% of business travel may not return in the years to come. While this saves money for the companies themselves, it will have a significant impact on employment in other related industries such as airlines, airports, hospitality and food service.
The world of work in 2022 is set to look radically different from how it just a few years ago. A hybrid working arrangement is proving to provide companies and employees with the best of both worlds: productivity and flexibility is increased, while collaboration and teamwork can still happen on one or more days of the week. Overall, deciding on the right balance when it comes to hybrid working will depend on the specific company roles involved, and what different employees need to be as productive – and happy – as possible.
It’s time for leaders to get real about hybrid
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