The reality of mixing office and WFH is far from 'best of both worlds'
Over the course of the pandemic, hybrid working has (shape)shifted from an alien concept to the aspirational gold standard at work, with many considered successful adopting this working pattern; but as hybrid is now turning from dream to reality, we can finally understand its true implications
The hybrid hype
The number of people who go into the office at least once a week has unsurprisingly reached a pandemic high, yet the draw of home lingers – it’s hybrid work that the nation craves. And, as we see hybrid working as the best of both worlds, we see exponents as the real winners of the post-COVID era.
We project the most aspirational personas onto hybrid workers – they have both work focus and family time, are productive, and have a chance to connect with colleagues while also taking time to recharge
In contrast, fully remote workers are judged peripheral to the team – less social, harder to reach out to for help, and collaboration with them can generate friction
Interestingly, full-time office workers are assigned similarly negative attributes – seen as the team distractors, they risk being considered time-wasters who undervalue the focus, productivity and wellbeing benefits of home working
On second thoughts…
Hybrid sounds a dream until we find ourselves stuck on video calls from our desks in empty offices instead of enjoying in-person meetings, and we really begin to question the whole point of being in the office if our colleagues are working from home.
Perhaps more disruptively, hybrid working takes away the much-needed routine and control us humans need in our lives:
Inconsistent morning starts feel disruptive
Food planning feels like advanced calculus
Energy levels differ between office and home, so productivity feels hard
Seeking balance actually makes admin jobs and errands harder – sharing a car, getting a dog sitter, doing the school pick-up
As a result, hybrid workers feel more stressed and anxious, consider their pay too low and feel they have fewer opportunities to develop
How to win?
Face up to the fact that hybrid is hard! The 'best of both worlds' language is setting everyone up to fall short. Brands who face into the truth will connect and look ahead of the curve
In addition, there are practical ways brands can assist - from helping consumers manage their meal routines without waste and overspending, to helping with seamless home-to-office tech set ups, to providing talking points: spaces where workers feel more confident getting back to face-to-face