Of the major changes COVID-19 brought to us, working remotely is one that has altered our global landscape and economy. Not only have we seen the ramifications of remote work across the professional world, but we’ve also seen it in migration patterns and increased cost of living in previously small towns and states. With all this upheaval and a large amount of chatter on the subject, it would be easy to assume 100% remote work is what employees want and will continue into the foreseeable future. However, studies show that isn’t the case. In fact, recent studies show that the conversation about remote work is spurred more by changing economic demands rather than social demands.
The future of remote work is changing
Remote work has its benefits – for both businesses and for the mental health of the workforce. Yet the general consensus is that a hybrid work model is the future. 74% of U.S. companies intend to implement a permanent hybrid work model, with the majority of companies opting for a schedule of three days in the office and two days remote. Despite the countless LinkedIn posts and news articles about employees wanting remote work, statistics show that around 44% of employees surveyed prefer a 100% remote work model. However, of those same employees, 83% said they would like a hybrid work model. This shows us that even those who would like a 100% remote work model feel their needs would still be met with a hybrid work model.
Many employees prefer the hybrid model because the remote work model showed just how hard it is to maintain a work-life balance when you work and live in the same space. Over the past two years, employees have experienced burnout at higher levels than previously experienced. Furthermore, the lack of human interaction takes a serious toll on the mental health and the overall satisfaction levels of employees. For employees working in industries where collaboration is critical, being in the office a couple of days a week allows them to engage in that while also enjoying the benefits of part-time remote work.
Balancing benefits offered by office and remote work
Ultimately, despite digital transformation in businesses, employees agree the best method of working collaboratively with co-workers is in person. Employers understand this as well. Aside from changes in where we work from, the traditional office space is also experiencing a transition. Large characterless office spaces with seas of cubicles, countless offices, and cold conference rooms are proving increasingly costly to maintain. 35% of businesses consider the costs prohibitive now, and 41% believe the cost will be prohibitive over the next five years.
New regulations in major cities requiring energy-efficient upgrades and the increased costs of living and transportation have also had an effect on the viability of the traditional office. Companies have also found that these traditional office layouts promote unhealthy hierarchies, encourage distraction, and limit creativity. In response, companies are rethinking their workspaces, with 29% stating innovation is a key focus over the next five years. Companies are also investing in supporting institutional changes within their organization, with 21% stating change management will be a major focus in the next five years.
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Businesses care about employee’s wellbeing
Statistics tell us that 84% of companies consider employee health and wellness “very important” when making company-wide decisions and changes. This statistic is backed by the investment in change management companies intend to make over the next five years. If you are unfamiliar, change managers are internal or external consultants hired specifically to manage the people part of organizational change. Their primary responsibility is to find and develop ways to support and guide the business and employees in immediate and long-term organizational change.
Change management has become a serious consideration for organizations as they continue to face the challenges COVID-19 created. The adoption of new technology, the high rate of turnover across the workforce, and disruptions to daily business have pushed companies to adapt to the changes and find ways to help their employees adapt to changes as well. But adaption isn’t the only concern; businesses are investing in change management because they want their employees to thrive and produce at a high level so the organization can continue to grow as well.
Digitizing the workspace for ease of productivity
Digitization efforts are a point of focus for businesses now and will continue to be in the next five years, with 59% of employers adopting new technology in all areas. While this is partially spurred by the shift to hybrid work, the adoption also comes at a time when cyber security threats are extremely high. 2021 saw an 82% increase in ransomware-related data leaks, with several notable cases occurring, such as the Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods.
Cyber threats have come with new tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) that aid the adversaries in successfully extorting their victims. The ease at which these adversaries have proven they can change their TTPs and approach to extortion proves a very viable threat to all businesses, especially those in the industrial engineering, manufacturing, technology, and professional services industries. With the continued adoption of technology, including cloud-based systems, cyber security will continue to be a focus for employers. Not only do employers have an obligation to protect their customer data, but they must also protect their employees’ data. As employees work remotely, robust digital infrastructure is a critical component of maintaining data security.
Hybrid work benefits employee-employer relationships
While employees may not be asking for 100% remote work, the fact is employees want more flexibility from their employers to balance their work and their personal lives. Whether due to having happier, healthier employees or pure coincidence, statistics show that 63% of businesses implementing a well-organized hybrid work model see high growth, whereas 69% of companies that do not, experience negative or low growth.
Businesses are moving towards hybrid work models because the hybrid work model has proved beneficial for both employees and employers. Ultimately, hybrid working models allow all players to address their professional and personal needs. In addition, the decrease in operating costs presents employers an opportunity to increase profits, despite growing business costs, benefitting the company and its employees in the long run.7 Adding in increased productivity and improved employee retention – hybrid work models are the future of the workforce.
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