Paper Matters Blog
Changing Worklife: The Hybrid Work Model is Here to Stay

Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living
Barely getting by, it’s all taking and no giving
They just use your mind, and they never give you credit
It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it

Dolly Parton wrote 9 to 5 in 1980 when work-life probably wasn’t even a term, and the typewriter was the machine of choice (forget Zoom and Slack). Fast forward to 2020, when our collective work life as we know it was upended with the arrival of COVID-19 (definitely enough to drive you crazy). Remote working accelerated as quarantines were enacted across the country. Pre Covid-19, 17% of U.S. employees worked from home five days or more per week. During the pandemic, 44% of employees worked remotely. As we return to a new normal post-pandemic, how and where work gets done is being reimagined. A hybrid work model is here to stay for many businesses.

What is a hybrid work model?

A hybrid work model includes a combination of working from different locations such as home, on the go and office. Employees want the best of both worlds and employers see the benefits of flexible work arrangements. According to a report released by Microsoft, over 70% of employees want flexible remote/hybrid work options to continue.

Hybrid-Work-Is-Inevitable

Hybrid work models can take a variety of forms. A standard pre-pandemic work model had employees classified as 100% in-office workers and some 100% remote. A common option that many companies are adopting for the Fall is three days in the office and two days remote. The hours you work can vary in a hybrid work model. Some employees may be more productive in the evening versus first thing in the morning.

In addition, physical office space is changing. Many companies have rethought their office footprint. Over 87% of executives expect to make changes to their real estate strategy in the next 12 months. PwC’s report on Emerging Trends in Real Estate shows that office tenants will require more square feet per worker post-COVID-19. Half plan to invest in communal space in the office and hoteling options. The largest area for investment is tools for virtual collaboration and IT infrastructure to support virtual connectivity.

Redefining Productivity

Pre COVID-19, some employers feared letting employees work from home because they believed they would be less productive. Great Place To Work measured employee productivity from March to August 2020 and compared it to the same time period in 2019. The result was productivity increased during 2020.

Hybrid-Work-Employee-Productivity

During the pandemic, a majority of employees felt more productive at home. According to changing work-life behaviors from Staples, employees working from home have more uninterrupted time to focus. Conversely, digital fatigue is on the rise. Emails, meetings and online chats have increased exponentially. While employees may be interrupted less, they are spending more time in front of screens without an analog break, such as working on paper. Or the opportunity to stretch your legs and walk to the office printer for your printouts. Addressing digital fatigue is a very real concern as our work-life behaviors change and evolve.

Hybrid-Work-Digital-Overload

However, the secret to increasing employee productivity is camaraderie and positive culture. When asked about what makes the company a great place to work, the most common phrase in the Great Place to Work employee survey was “genuinely love” followed by “positive atmosphere.” Finally, “excellent leadership” had an effect on productivity, especially during uncertain times.

Hybrid work models will be the norm.

If anything, the past year has shattered long-held assumptions about work-life such as traditional in-office work, collaboration and productivity. To remain competitive, companies will need to embrace flexibility and the hybrid work model will be the norm. Employee expectations have shifted and most have proven they can effectively work remotely. Companies will need to create a plan that incorporates policy, physical space and technology.

For more information on the evolving world of paper, print and productivity, request your complimentary subscription to Paper Matters magazine.

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