Hybrid work is the new buzz phrase. With businesses experimenting to find the optimum blend of office and home-based working, the sweet spot is different for every organisation.
Last year, we thought that 2021 would bring us back to something approaching ‘normal’ work conditions.
Yet with Covid lockdowns continuing, it seems the blended workplace is here to stay – with significant all-around benefits.
Workers give hybrid work model tick of approval
Broadly speaking, employees are responding positively to remote working or a balance of home and office-based work.
According to a 2020 Adaptavist-Atlassian study, around 85% of the Australian workforce said they were just as productive at home as they were in the office. While a third of them reported being more productive at home.
A recent Qualtrics report shows similar results. The future of work in 2021: Perspectives on the next normal report reveals a majority of Australian workers favouring the flexibility of the hybrid work model.
Close to 40% of those surveyed felt just as connected to community and co-workers than before the pandemic, with a majority saying their wellbeing had increased.
Looking at this data, we can easily drive to the conclusion that employees are happy to have the flexibility of hybrid work – they are feeling good, productive and connected with co-workers (thanks to technology), so why go back to office 9 to 5 every day?
Employer responses to hybrid work
Okay, so workers are liking more work flexibility. But what do employers say?
As the Qualtrics study demonstrates, more than half of the managers surveyed said their direct reports were working more effectively from home. A further 29% reported the same level of productivity for both home and office-based workers. Businesses are now equipped with effective tech solutions and have working business processes in place, which lead to minimal disruptions for business operations.
Of course, some industries cannot fully enjoy the benefits of hybrid work arrangements. Construction, trade and some real estate jobs are among those that can’t be done online while working from home. You can’t fix electricity or build a house if you are not on the location. In saying that, we notice that things can change here, too. We hear that more and more real estate agents are organising online auctions, and leasing managers carry out virtual inspections. Who knows how workplaces will transform into the future?
Talking about transforming the office
Australia’s CBDs – mostly in Melbourne and Sydney to be more precise – have suffered quite a bit under prolonged pandemic lockdowns.
Nonetheless, the Changing Places: how hybrid working is reinventing the Australian CBD report states that the ‘death of the CBD’ has been greatly exaggerated. And despite the recent tendency of Australians moving further from crowded cities into suburbs and smaller towns, the city centres are waiting for them to be back in full capacity.
The report also suggests that the pandemic response is driving a transformation of the CBD as we know it – sparking a new wave of commerce and reinventing the way we do business.
What will future workplaces look like?
As PwC reports, 66% of Australian workers want to stay connected to the office. Yet the forecast is – the office will look significantly different to its pre-pandemic appearance.
- More ‘drop-in’ employees will divide their time between home and office. This flexibility saves travel time and costs while improving the work-life balance.
- Creativity and innovation will receive a much-needed boost. City offices will gradually become places for ‘cultural recharge’, sanctuary, inspiration, and support, with essential functions done at home.
- Major CBD tenants will reduce their floor space. This is likely to lead to lower rents, presenting opportunities for smaller businesses previously priced out of the market.
- Co-working and social enterprise will likely increase. This allows start-ups, entrepreneurs and forward-thinking communities to enter and thrive in city centres.
Australian urban centres will progressively refresh, as old enterprises give way to new, and the overall business activity changing its form and looks. This fresh start for our CBD office spaces is likely to lead to new waves of business growth, well beyond Covid lockdowns.
And while Australia is adapting to hybrid work, our real estate and property clients are focused on their long-term hiring and retention strategies in post-Covid reality, with our consultants by their side and as an integral part of their recruitment process.