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Executives, project leaders and managers in the technology and software development industry have always known that workplace culture is a constantly shifting landscape and that a deep understanding of your team‘s culture is necessary to being an effective leader and ensuring team satisfaction.
During the last couple of years, influenced primarily by the global pandemic and economic changes, workplace dynamics have been shaken in an unprecedented way. Many companies were forced to initiate and adopt more remote work models as a new necessity. For some industries, this was a big shift, but not necessarily for the technology industry, which had already been accustomed to the work-from-home model. Two years ago, such measures were widely considered temporary and undesirable. Still, recent studies have found that many employees, including managers and team leaders, actually prefer the developing model of a hybrid workplace empowered by growing collaborative technology.
What is a hybrid workplace?
A hybrid workplace is essentially a model or structure of work that allows employees to work either in the office or remotely from home. Differing versions have been implemented in different companies, including co-working office spaces, distributed work or nearshore software technology and software development companies. This model’s flexibility is the most obvious draw for employees. It allows them to partially customize and control their schedules, which can impact every aspect of their work and job satisfaction.
Why is a hybrid workplace preferable to traditional environments?
The shift to hybrid workplaces is beneficial to employees, as it allows their working habits and environment to reflect their needs better. A recent Future Forum Pulse states that “flexibility now ranks second only to compensation in determining job satisfaction” and reports that location flexibility significantly improved their ability to manage stress, their work-life balance and their job satisfaction among surveyed knowledge workers. It can also eliminate many frustrations and frictions between management and those with rigid working hours, such as needing to request special permissions for doctor’s appointments, the inability to leave early to pick up their child when necessary or lateness due to traffic at commuting times.
However, this shift is far from one-sided and has many benefits from a management perspective, other than employee satisfaction. Surprisingly, in the last two years, many remote workers have reported that their productivity is improved, and that’s not necessarily new information. A remote collaborative worker survey back in 2015 found that 77% of hybrid workers said they were more productive when working off-site, and 52% of them said they were less likely to take time off.
According to a survey by The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, the hybrid model builds engagement and encourages results-based productivity. The productivity of team members when freed from the constraints of rigid, required hours in an office increases, as focus shifts to project deadlines and results rather than the appearance of being busy in the office environment. This also does not take into account workers who have long commutes to and from work, whether they are located in big cities or other countries where roads are less developed.
If a hybrid model is not possible or feasible for your team, a severe preference should be recognized among workers for flexibility. They want remote teams or flexible hours, and wherever this is possible, it will benefit you greatly by improving efficiency and employee satisfaction. For U.S. businesses, the addition of remote workers through nearshore software development companies, for example, could significantly improve efficiency and lower cost overheads while fostering a modern hybrid working environment and the value and flexibility it can add. Nearshoring companies can often match time zones to join and support a hybrid team in digital, accessible ways. When implemented well, remote and hybrid workplaces create cultures that prioritize communication while still offering opportunities for collaboration and community.
In the modern landscape of emerging digital workplaces, the hybrid workplace dominates the conversation about workplace culture. To quote directly from the 2021 Future Forum Pulse, “The traditional argument against flexibility — that the office is where work happens — is no longer relevant.” The place where work is happening now is digital and online, which is a powerful and positive change for businesses and workers alike to embrace.
Recent news showed that Apple’s employees are upset about having to go back into the office, even in a hybrid fashion. The same article states that Google is spending over $1 billion on new office space. As stated in the article, the initial intentions seem to be to have the employees back in the office full-time. This begs the question, is big tech even listening to their employees? As discussed, I strongly believe the right mix of working from home and hybrid work environments is the way of the future.