According to Slack, the business messaging app that “knock knocks” its way through your working day as notifications and DMs land from colleagues across the channels you’re on, 58 per cent of knowledge workers across the UK (and the US, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan) are now working in hybrid arrangements, with 66 per cent of those saying it is their preferred work mode.
The data came from the company’s latest Future Forum Pulse, Slack’s quarterly survey of more than 10,000 knowledge workers. And there are lots of compelling reasons as to why hybrid working is great – even the renowned writer and thinker Malcolm Gladwell has rowed in on the topic, telling the Diary of a CEO podcast that “It’s not in your best interest to work at home. I know it’s a hassle to come to the office, but if you’re just sitting in your pajamas in your bedroom – is that the work life you want to live?”
Gladwell wasn’t dismissing remote working. Rather, he was speaking to the point that it is in workers’ best professional interests to be present – at least some of the time – at their place of work. Access to, and facetime with, your manager is something that can only happen properly in person. Plus, being in the office with colleagues engenders those spontaneous conversations that light sparks of innovation that you simply can’t schedule over Zoom.
Office access is crucial too for younger workers who may have begun their first job during the pandemic. Learning the ropes of office culture and team dynamics will stand them in good stead for their future careers.
Many knowledge workers are now firmly in a hybrid working environment. A survey conducted over the summer by Consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates looked at 50,000 UK workers in 43 offices. It found that people are now going into the office an average of 1.5 days a week, compared to pre-pandemic, where workers went into the office an average of 3.8 days.
So clearly hybrid is the way forward, right? It seems so – a McKinsey study found that nine out of ten organisations will be combining remote and on-site working, but is it really all it is cracked up to be?
It is clear hybrid work is a great choice for a lot of people, offering a flexibility that was previously unavailable and bringing more of a work-life balance to the lives of many. Despite that, there are still some drawbacks to consider. We’re taking a look at just a few of them below.
Slack’s Future Forum Pulse discovered that executives, white knowledge workers, men and non-parents are opting into in-office work at higher rates, therefore gaining a proximity bias advantage over those who remain remote. The company pointed out that this could lead to an entrenching of existing inequities.
It’s hard work
Mixing two modes of work into one week can be emotionally and physically draining. A recent global study from Tinypulse found that 80 per cent of people leaders said it was exhausting for employees.
With some people working in the office and some at home, meetings can be a little fraught as those sitting side-by-side scramble for headphones to avoid feedback loops or try to find a quiet space, only to find another team member is already occupying it. The solution is yet to make itself known: either teams all pick a day to be in the office together, or businesses compromise and provide plenty more breakout and meeting spaces to help.
Many companies downsized during the pandemic: In the U.S, at least 43 companies have downsized, sold or let leases expire, according to Buildremote, including Dropbox, Pinterest and Airbnb. What happens if your company does the same, and you come in on a day when there is literally nowhere for you to plug in your laptop?
Lots of people enjoyed how their expenses were cut dramatically during the Covid period. Commuting and childcare costs were two big ones, not to mention all the incidental savings on things like oat milk lattes and nice spendy lunches out. Many workers are reluctant, especially with escalating prices this year, to go back to a situation where it will cost them money to attend their place of work.
Are you unhappy with your workplace’s hybrid work policy? The power lies with you – your first action should be to check out all the available jobs on the London Economic Job Board to find a great new role that’s a perfect fit in every way