Back to normality: Back to the office and the hybrid work model

29 April, 2021

With companies planning the return of their workers in the face of greater openness, there is an urgent need to resolve the debate on the productivity of the hybrid format that combines face-to-face and remote work.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of workers around the world have had to move to a virtual-only workspace, adapting to working remotely and trying to maintain the productivity levels set by the more traditional office model. Faced with what initially worked as a flexible format that allowed for the optimisation of processes in medium and large companies in any country, the managers of some large technology companies have begun to make decisions related to a question that many are currently asking themselves: “Will we return completely to face-to-face work or will a hybrid format be implemented?

There are different examples that show how this question is the main unknown to be cleared up in companies of international weight: Google has assured that the return of workers to the office has brought forward its dates, leaving only the option of working remotely for more than 14 days to those interested who submit a formal request and meet the requirements.

Another giant, Twitter, announced last year that its employees could work remotely “forever”, but on the condition that employees “perform a role that they can do from home and are in a situation that allows them to do so”, so as to maintain the performance that is usually expected of them.

Microsoft has also stressed on more than one occasion that “working from home less than 50% of the working day will be the standard for most jobs” in the future, but there is still debate as to whether it will be the best decision for workers if the current working model is not transformed.

A recent report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network, entitled ‘Decoding Global Ways of Working’, surveyed 209,000 people in 190 countries, 89% of respondents said that their preference in the future would be for “a job that allows them to work flexibly from home”.

The debate

The balance between returning to face-to-face work and performing functions remotely will be paramount to avoid problems for companies. Although flexibility is the ideal dream of workers, a 100% functional model that can be fully adopted by companies and that meets the needs of HR departments and companies has not yet been determined. “None of us have been able to figure it out,” Facebook’s global vice president of sales told the BBC in a recent interview, “we’re making it up as we go along.

While a point of understanding is being reached between all parties, many companies are also increasingly opting for a workspace contract with a model of spaces that transmits security and all the guarantees needed to be able to work normally. Gran Via Business & Meeting Center, in Barcelona, explains its main argument for optimism in the current situation: “We believe that the vast majority of people will only feel safe if they know that everyone in the office does not have the coronavirus and that there are measures to prevent it spreading. People will only come back if they have that reassurance, which will allow the return to the office to be quicker and at higher levels than many people predict.

“The technology and measures are already in place and in the last few months have proven their efficiency,” they explain from this business centre, while pointing out how the cultural change needed to take the step remains to be made and how companies must understand that not opting for flexibility – in this or other ways – could be detrimental to their competitiveness and their ability to attract and retain talent.

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