Traditional working models have gone through a series of changes where new working models are increasingly taking part in our lives. The majority of the working model was offline and working in the offices has gone through a major modification during the COVID-19 pandemic era forcing many to work online or combine offline and online together. Although online freelance work has existed for a long time, thanks to rapid developments in internet and computers since the 1990s this hybrid working model has grown exponentially especially for specializations like journalism, jurisprudence, computer programming, design, expert and consulting activities. Forced social isolation, with one side, and achievements in the field of technology, with the other side, made it possible to work and cooperate from any place at any time, which creates a hybrid working space. It can be an office in a company, a private apartment, or even a bench in the park. Some young people prefer to work in cafes. For joint work and the exchange of data, the place is not of great importance [Ro, 2020].
What will change in this sphere after the end of the pandemic? Will we return to the previous formats of work or transformational processes in the spheres of our activity will become irreversible? Many experts ask similar questions and research this topic, including large-scale social surveys.
So, it became clear that 55% of employees in the US want to work in the office for two or three days a week and at home for the rest of the time [Bloom, 2020]. In the UK, employers expect that the share of permanent home-based workers will double – from 18% before the pandemic to 37% after the pandemic [CIPD, 2020]. In China, labor experts predict that in 10 years, the ratio between work in the workplace and remote work will be 60/40 [Microsoft, 2020].
The results of the research make employers look for new strategies and forms of work organization, which implies expanding diversity, flexibility and taking into account a variety of factors. Some of them allowed employees to continue working remotely, at least until the end of the pandemic. Others demand the return of employees to the workplace, but according to certainly established schedules and in turn. It is clear, however, that the most promising form of hybrid work will be a combination of telecommuting with office work.
However, this option, in the face of continuing uncertainty, also has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, surveys showed that 26% of US workers are already preparing to look for new job opportunities, and 40% of workers worldwide are considering leaving their current employers by the end of the year [Currie, 2021]. The pandemic has proven that employees can work successfully from home, and they want to maintain that flexibility. Benefits such as work from home (WFH) and flexible hours are critical to attracting and retaining top talent.
It soon became clear that not all work can be done remotely; not everyone wants to work from home. Part of the workers faced the problem of inequality, expressed in the fact that the technical and living conditions at home were much worse than in offices, women were more likely to be forced to leave, as they had to pay more attention to childcare and homeschooling during isolation as a result of school closures.
The constant readiness for the call, thanks to which employees are easily accessible anytime, anywhere, including outside working hours, has led to the fact that the distinction between work and personal life has disappeared. Many people have to work outside working hours, which has dramatically upset the balance between private and professional, work and personal life. According to the European Parliament, 27% of people who work from home worked outside working hours, with extended hours increasing the risk of unpaid overtime. Experts also show that prolonged screen sitting and overwork causes cognitive and emotional overload and can lead to burnout, and today more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression and work-related mental disorders. In this regard, Parliament has proposed drafting a law allowing employees to be disconnected from work outside office hours and establishing minimum standards for WFH [EP News, 2021].
However, many managers believe that in the hybrid work model they have lost control compared to the period before the pandemic because managing remote workers is more difficult and requires specialized skills [Wheatley, 2021]. This is evidenced by the results of an online survey of 200 executives in the United States, which showed that they do not fully believe in the ability of their employees to successfully handle remote work. Meanwhile, experts suggest managers do not control the entire process of employees’ work, but only evaluate the results.
However, there are also examples of successful and flexible strategies. In particular, Kissflow, a digital workplace service provider with offices in the US and India, introduced a mixed work model called REMOTE +. Employees have the right to work for three weeks from anywhere and only one week at the company’s office. At the same time, the company covers the living expenses during the working week for all employees arriving from far away. These and several other measures allowed a 30% increase in productivity during the WFH period [Kissflow, 2020].
In conclusion we can say that the choice of future work models will depend on the specific conditions, situations, and strategies of employers. But organizations must develop policies that recognize the diverse needs of their workforce, and flexibility must be employee-centric to ensure the best results for workers, organizations, and society.
Bloom, Nicholas (2020). How working from home works out Received from https://siepr.stanford.edu/research/publications/how-working-home-works-out. Accessed on 24.11.2021.
CIPD (2020). Home working set to more than double compared to pre-pandemic levels once the crisis is over. Received from https://www.cipd.co.uk/about/media/press/home-working-increases. Accessed on 25.11.2021.
Currie, Claire (2021) Prudential Newsroom. Increasingly, workers expect pandemic workplace adaptations to stick. Received from https://news.prudential.com/increasingly-workers-expect-pandemic-workplace-adaptations-to-stick.htm. Accessed on 24.11.2021.
EP News (2021). Parliament wants to ensure the right to disconnect from work 2021. Received from https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20210121STO96103/parliament-wants-to-ensure-the-right-to-disconnect-from-work. Accessed on 25.11.2021.
Kissflow (2020). Kissflow launches REMOTE+ an industry-first work model for the After-COVID era. Received from https://kissflow.com/news/kissflow-launches-remoteplus/. Accessed on 02.11.2021.
Microsoft (2020). Microsoft forecasts a hybrid new normal of work in Asia-Pacific. Received from https://news.microsoft.com/apac/2020/07/29/microsoft-forecasts-a-hybrid-new-normal-of-work-in-asia-pacific/. Accessed on 26.11.2021.
Ro, Christine (2020). Why the future of work might be ‘hybrid’. Received from https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200824-why-the-future-of-work-might-be-hybrid. Accessed on 24.11.2021.
Wheatley, Daniel (2021). Hybrid working: how to make it a success. Received from https://theconversation.com/hybrid-working-how-to-make-it-a-success-165189. Accessed on 24.11.2021.
Note: The views expressed in this blog are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the Institute’s editorial policy.
Nadirova Gulnar Ermuratovna graduated from the Oriental Faculty of Leningrad State University, in 1990 she defended her thesis on the Algerian literature at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, in 2006 doctoral thesis - on modern Tunisian literature at the Tashkent Institute of Oriental Studies, Professor.