The Look of Hybrid Work Slowly Takes Shape

Hybrid Work

Industry talk has become almost obsessed with the idea that remote work is here to stay. Certainly all the months operating with a dispersed workforce has put to rest many of the doubts employers had about whether employees working off-site could keep the business running effectively. According to PwC’s latest U.S. Remote Work Survey, for example, more than half of U.S. executives, 52%, believe employee productivity has gone up since the pandemic began. More than a third of their workers agree.

At the same time, there’s no consensus about what post-pandemic work will look like. On the one hand, fewer than 20% of company leaders want to return to the office as it was before Covid-19. On the other, just 13% are ready to give up the office completely.

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What most everyone—employers and employees—do agree on is that some kind of hybrid approach will take root, with workers spending some of their time in the office and some of their time outside of it.

Remote Basis for Hybrid Work

For, if nothing else, the pandemic has shown that work indeed gets done off-site. More than a third of employees, 34%, believe they’re more productive now than they were before the pandemic, said PwC. Executives agree, with 52% saying average employee productivity went up last year.

In order to succeed with a hybrid workplace, PwC believes companies must accelerate investments that support virtual collaboration and creativity. The survey found that 60% of executives plan to spend more on collaboration tools and manager training on leading remote teams. Half expect to increase spending on efforts to support hybrid work in general, such as hoteling apps and creating more communal space in the office.

Exactly when this evolution begins in earnest is unclear. For one thing, the timing is sure to depend on the progress made administering vaccinations for Covid-19. For another, employers and employees don’t see eye to eye on how quickly the return to work should start. By July, 75% of executives predict at least half of their workers will be back in the office. However, just 61% of employees believe they’ll be spending half their time on premises by then.

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