CEO of three-time AFR Fast 100 company Pragmatic Thinking, Alison Hill (main photo) is a registered psychologist, award-winning business woman, international keynote speaker and author of two best-selling books including the recent co-authored Work From Anywhere. Here, Hill argues the future of work is hybrid…
The structure of the modern-day workforce has evolved in record time due to the physical restrictions and regulations placed on organisations since the onset of the pandemic. 14 months on and organisations the world over have largely accepted that remote work and flexible working practices are here to stay.
In a survey of over 200 participants from Australian behaviour and motivation strategy company, Pragmatic Thinking, over 75% of people prefer a hybrid work approach when given the option to choose. This is an encouraging statistic pointing towards long-term adoption of flexible, hybrid work structures across all sectors.
In Australia alone, organisations such as NAB, ANZ and Medibank have made public commentary about their ongoing commitment to hybrid working practices for employees at various office locations across the country.
Across all 33 markets that it currently operates in, including Australia and New Zealand, ANZ have committed to embracing a hybrid work model for their global workforce. In a company blog Kathryn van der Merwe, Talent and Culture, shares that through internal surveys they’ve found that more than two thirds of ANZ employees have a preference for blended working. They’re committing to looking in detail as to how different roles can be best expressed in a blended approach.
Kylie Bishop, Group Executive of People and Culture at Medibank has shared the vision for the modern workplace and between us, it’s looking decidedly hybrid. “As we move into a post-2020 world, people are going to want more choice in where and how they work. Corporate Australia has, for the most part, developed an understanding of the benefits of allowing greater flexibility in where their employees want to work. We know that when employees feel supported, productivity increases, and people are more engaged. Many businesses are redefining the purpose of the office to be centred around the type of work being done. The office will become a place of purpose; to collaborate, connect, and if needed concentrate. No longer will they be places you must go to because it’s Monday.”
The perfect hybrid work schedule
Further astounding insights from the Pragmatic Thinking report on the state of remote work in Australia point to a preference for a 2:3 split between working from home and working from the office. Over 50% of people surveyed expressed their preference for this structure, and when asked what they’d do if forced to return to the office over 60% of people would ask for more flexibility from their employer.
Going forward the pressure is well and truly on organisations to step up to the plate and offer the flexibility and work/life balance offered from a hybrid working arrangement post-pandemic. Now that workers have had a taste of this way of working it’s going to be quite the challenge to retain top talent in organisations pushing to return to the office full-time when others are willing to adopt this modern approach.
The challenges of hybrid work
As for the challenges associated with increasingly distributed team structures, according to the research communication and collaboration remain to be a significant concern for leaders and employees alike.
Surprisingly, there’s also been an uptick in concern surrounding conflict management in teams working flexibly, with 42% stating this was an enduring challenge for them while operating in a hybrid team environment.
In order for workplaces to thrive in a hybrid environment, Learning and Development leaders are going to need to focus their training on hybrid team communication; including giving and receiving feedback, coaching and conflict management.
Overall it’s clear to see from the data that hybrid working is going to be a priority for many Australians moving forward. Workplaces should be preparing their leaders and teams for the transition into this way of working to ensure high performance and team cohesion. As for leaders and organisations still on the fence, the implications for talent retention in an increasingly competitive environment make the discussion of hybrid work that much more important.