As we finally dare to believe that we're over the worst of the pandemic, the habits and expectations that we've formed as a workforce over the last two years will gradually begin to change. And so must the way we work.
The future of work is a critical leadership topic that we're following closely at Northstar. As part of my ongoing quest to keep my finger on the pulse, I recently came across an absolutely fantastic report from Owl Labs - creator of the award winning Meeting Owl Pro. Owl Labs, in conjunction with Global Workplace Analytics (GWA), conducted a broad survey of attitudes and experiences towards remote/hybrid working - and published its 5th State of Remote Work report. It is an excellent and detailed read for anyone remotely (pun intended) interested in the topic. The verdict is in - the majority of our nation's workforce are expecting to be able to continue to enjoy the flexibilities of hybrid working long after the end of the pandemic, with a significant proportion willing to give up their current role if hybrid working rights are taken away.
The report certainly supports the idea that hybrid working is here to stay and that the challenges can be overcome. Although I agree, the focus here is on the immediate challenges (i.e. how do we all attend and participate in productive and engaging meetings effectively), there is little mention of some of the longer term, insidious effects of a hybrid workforce which will ultimately determine the success or failure of a hybrid approach. And therein lies a considerable problem - the workforce expects to be able to continue working remotely, because it works for them now. Many leadership teams are keen to get their employees back together sooner at some point in the near future, as they fear the potential long term damage to engagement, productivity, community and engagement that will come later. Unless expectations are managed very carefully, this is a recipe for disaster that could destroy the relationship between leadership and workforce in any organization. Perhaps the jury is still out on this one after all.
The full report can be downloaded from Owl Labs website, free of charge: https://owllabs.com/state-of-remote-work/2021/. I highly recommend that you take a look - it's a goldmine of well presented findings.