The working landscape is being transformed by the hybrid model, bringing major new opportunities for companies.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a permanent effect on many millions of people’s working lives. The hybrid model – where people can choose to split their time between working from home, a local flexible workspace, and an office HQ – has gone mainstream. And as a result of this tectonic shift, the working landscape is changing.
Ten significant new trends have been identified in a new IWG white paper, The Future of Work. While some are already taking shape, others will develop over the coming months and beyond, as the hybrid movement continues to accelerate around the world.
Human relations, not human resources
During the Covid-19 pandemic, employee wellbeing, both physical and mental, took centre stage. Moving forwards, wellbeing and avoidance of burnout will continue to be of prime importance, with ‘human relations’ taking the place of ‘human resources’. We are already seeing employers such as Nike and Bumble offering staff impromptu paid leave so they can reboot or spend some time on a passion project.
Last year, an IWG survey revealed that almost half of all office workers would quit if asked to return to the office five days a week. Since then, the demand for flexible working has increased greatly, and many now consider it a necessity when finding a new job. That means it’s workers, rather than employers, who are now redefining the world of work in 2022 and beyond.
With employees able to work from anywhere, companies will be able to hire from a national or even global pool of candidates, opening up job opportunities for people all over the planet. At the same time, employees, freed from the necessity of the daily commute to a head office, will be able to choose to live in rural or coastal areas, improving their work/life balance. Diversity and inclusion will also be positively impacted by the extension of companies’ recruitment boundaries.
New life is being breathed into suburbs, towns and villages as the workforce is no longer tied to large offices in city centres. In the UK, IWG has seen the highest increase in demand for its flexible workspaces in suburban areas such as Bromsgrove and Andover, and this trajectory is set to continue. “With hundreds more rural and suburban flexible working locations in the pipeline, we expect a wide range of vibrant local communities to develop with thriving businesses at their heart,” says Dixon.
The daily commute is becoming a thing of the past for many, with the advent of hybrid working. And cleaner air isn’t the only result. Less commuting means less stress and more time – which can be used for health-promoting activities such as exercising and sleeping, not to mention more time with loved ones. For those working at a local flexspace, the ‘commute’ is likely to be a healthy walk or cycle ride of 15 minutes or less.
The office will remain a vital space for collaboration and collective creativity, but it’s likely to look very different. It’ll become a place where inspirational experiences are key, led by workplace experience managers – a role that is already growing in importance. Expect to see workspaces that are designed both to aid creativity and to generate a positive buzz leading to stronger work and team cultures.
Cloud-based technology has been central to the success of hybrid working, and more online tools are likely to be rolled out to aid companies both large and small to be more creative and communicative. A little further in the future, the virtual world of the metaverse will transform the world of videoconferencing, allowing us to interact as avatars in whatever virtual setting we choose.
The blue skies seen over previously smog-bound global cities during periods of lockdown were a graphic demonstration of how the environment – and our own health – can benefit from reduced commuting. But hybrid working also brings other sustainability benefits in areas such as gender equality, wellbeing, clean energy and sustainable local communities. With sustainability very much front of mind for businesses of all kinds and sizes, the switch to hybrid can be expected to play a much greater role in helping companies meet their ESG targets.
Office rent is typically one of a company’s biggest costs, but one of the many benefits of hybrid working is that it offers the opportunity for downsizing, as not all employees need to be present at the same time. This results in cost savings – not just in rent but also in utility bills, cleaning fees and office equipment. With the typical employer able to save around US$11,000 a year for every person who works remotely for half of the week, we can expect more and more companies to streamline their workspace requirements in 2022 and beyond.
If employees are working away from the corporate HQ, how will productivity be measured in the future? Cloud-based workflow tools such as Quixy, Hive and Nintex are likely to be integrated into increasing numbers of company operations, making it easier to monitor, track and assess who is doing what and whether deadlines are likely to be met. Further forward, increasing amounts of real-time data will be mined to aid increased efficiency.
All the trends identified above represent opportunities for companies to maximise the benefits brought about by hybrid working, bringing positive outcomes not only for employees and the bottom line, but also for the planet.
To find out about the latest trends in the world of work, read IWG’s new white paper, The Future of Work.
Looking for a hybrid work solution for your business? Find out how IWG can support you today.