The pandemic changed a lot of lives permanently. While many of these effects were heartbreakingly tragic, some of the lasting impacts will lead to positive changes for the long haul. Breaking down the traditional 9-to-5 work schedule might be the most significant of these lingering COVID consequences.
A survey conducted by Upwork found that one in four Americans will work remotely in 2021. The report estimated that more than 36 million U.S. workers will spend part of their workweek at home by the middle of the decade.
Compare that to a pre-pandemic figure of just under 6 million workers who spent at least half their time working remotely. That’s a massive swing towards a hybrid working model in just a few years.
But the question remains: is this shake-up good? Will it help businesses? What about workers?
Here are a few things to consider as you contemplate whether the pandemic ended the 9-to-5 work model for good:
Is a Hybrid Model Good for Businesses?
Companies switched to remote work during the pandemic because they had to. It was a panic-move motivated by a deadly virus. In the post-COVID world, does the model still have value?
Here are a few pros and cons that businesses need to consider as they contemplate a long-term hybrid model:
- More team-building options. Businesses can hire people from all over the country, accessing talent that they wouldn’t even know about without a remote option.
- Added flexibility. Companies can also add talent easier and take advantage of part-time and contract workers.
- Ready for the next crisis. Unfortunately, you can’t guarantee another pandemic won’t strike. Meanwhile, other emergencies can arise (power outage, flood, etc.) that would force workers out of the office. Having a hybrid model in place makes it easier to react to a crisis when it happens.
- Collaboration gets more complicated. Technology has improved the way teams collaborate over distances. But this type of teamwork has a different character than when people can share the same space.
- Harder to manage details. Goodbye, micromanagement. It’s harder to follow the moment-to-moment workflow with remote workers.
- More complicated team dynamics. Friendships and trust might be harder to form in a remote setting.
- Investment in technology. Creating and maintaining the technology infrastructure necessary for an effective remote working environment can become expensive and time-consuming.
Is a Hybrid Model Good for Workers?
Ideally, businesses and workers would have their interests aligned. What’s good for one would be good for the other. However, in the real world, that isn’t always the case.
Any consideration of the future of remote work has to take into account both sets of stakeholders. We’ve looked at how a hybrid working model impacts employers. Here’s how it can affect workers:
- Better work/life balance. With added flexibility, employees have the freedom to better integrate life and work.
- More time in the day. No commutes. More efficient meetings. As a result, many workers end up with hours of additional time each day.
- More employers to choose from. Since a worker can contribute remotely from any location, they are no longer bound by employers within driving distance. They can choose from companies from all over the world.
- Harder to get noticed. Little networking tricks, like talking to your boss at the water cooler, don’t work in a remote environment. It’s harder to get noticed and easier for workers to become cogs in the machine.
- More difficult to learn from coworkers/managers. The process of communication and education becomes more complicated in a remote setting. What might have taken five minutes with an in-person demonstration can often become a drawn-out discussion – even when you employ state-of-the-art video conferencing tools.
- Different social dynamics. The modes of teamwork change in a remote setting. These aren’t always worse. But they do require adjustment.
Is a hybrid model here to stay? Only time will tell. However, in a fast-changing environment, you’ll benefit from a partnership with an innovative partner, like Recruiting In Motion.