Companies that refuse to accept the new reality of remote and hybrid work (without good reasons) will start to look out of date, especially as the benefits for diversity, recruitment, and work-life balance increase. But hybrid work experiences still friction. While 2021 was about getting bosses to allow people to choose where they want to work, 2022 will be all about when you work. This will undoubtedly lead to more asynchronous collaboration. It is important to make sure that productivity does not suffer from the confusion about who is working when.
The most interesting trend is the end of hustle. This has led to a rise in looking out for yourself at work. The younger generation of workers has been criticised for not opting out from a cycle of breaking to make their careers. However, they are right: Productivity and success should not require you to give up your family life, work hours, or personal life. Smart managers will realize that workplace wellbeing has little to do yoga and mindfulness apps but everything to do with respecting the rights to such balance.
Here are the predictions of business experts about how knowledge work will evolve in the future.
Hybrid work will be the default, but it’ll take work
According to James Berry, Director of the University College London’s MBA program, hybrid work is the new central model for knowledge-worker businesses. This means that we will need to find the best way to manage remote and in-person work. We must also balance when people are available without creating silos among teams. He says that hybrid working requires planning in order to ensure it works for everyone involved and the company as a whole.
While it is clear that we will need to be in the office for innovation work, it’s also obvious that we must have flexibility to retain talent. Berry states, “Overall be deliberate about how you set-up your hybrid environment so that you not only reap the benefits of the output and productivity from your teams, but also continue to build a flexible culture which will help you retain your talent over the next year.”
Addressing the Proximity Bias
Remote working has one major problem. It can lead to the disparity between those who work in an office and those who are working remotely. Janine Chamberlin from LinkedIn UK, heads coordinated hybrid work, which allows some days to be in the office while others are elsewhere. However, this is a problem that managers need to consider for remote workers.
Chamberlin states that LinkedIn’s research has shown that 9/10 European businesses will offer some form of flexible working in the coming year. However, it must be done fairly in practice. She says that nearly three quarters of UK workers are concerned about the effects of “proximity bias”, a trend in which employees who work in an office are more valued than those who work remotely. “We can expect businesses to take action over the next year to ensure all employees feel included no matter where they work.”
Virtual Meetings will get better and shorter
Office workers switched to Zoom to avoid in-person meetings during the pandemic. This led to a steep learning curve about how to communicate with each other via video. Prezi CEO Jim Szafranksi says that hybrid work will continue and that we’ll need to improve at video calls.
He says that in 2022, the ability to produce better remote meetings will be a skill that will lead to promotions, leadership opportunities and success as an employee. “Instead of putting ‘proficiency in Excel’ on your resume, you will be able to talk about proficiency with key hybrid work skills such as creating engaging content and encouraging participation.”
Szafranksi believes that we will all be able to use text responses and questions to participate in the conversation without having to interrupt the speaker. He also predicts that we’ll learn to schedule shorter and more focused meetings. This will be easier if we know when people are most productive for such tasks. He says that the prime meeting time is Tuesday through Thursday between 10 and noon. Other tasks and discussions will be shifted to non-concurrent work rather than concurrent meetings.
Time is more important than place
Andy Wilson, Director of Dropbox UK, states that the nature of offices will change to accommodate our new ways of using them for hot-desking and collaboration. Our working hours will be changed, as staff have the freedom to plan their lives around work. This means policies like core collaboration hours will be introduced, which are time that is reserved for live meetings: “Next year will be a step away traditional hours to nonlinear day.”
Companies will need to be better to avoid the great resignation
Tara Ataya is chief people and diversity officer at Hootsuite. She calls it the “big quit” but it could lead to a reckoning that could prove positive for companies, allowing them to finally put their people first. She says that this includes changing traditional work models to allow people to choose where and how they want to work.
Ataya states that “Workplaces for the future will address talent shortages through focusing on diversity and equitable practices, purpose, and purpose.” They will provide better benefits and encourage talent mobility in order to increase retention.
Remote work will become strategic
Jessica Reeder, GitLab’s senior all-remote campaign manager, said that remote working will not be seen as a temporary solution for pandemic lockdowns and as an employee benefit, but as a way to protect against future crises. She says that, just as organizations expect to have succession plans and security plans, a remote work strategy is crucial to business continuity.
Companies will require expertise in remote work and leadership positions that are focused on the future of their work strategies. This will help to create organizations that attract the best talent.
Stable home office broadband
One of the main struggles with hybrid working is ensuring your teams have access to stable broadband. This also raises the question of whether business broadband should be offered to home offices on behalf of their employer. Stable home office broadband is essential for maintaining productivity and to guarantee employee availability.
What about the the Metaverse?
Nick Hedderman, Microsoft UK’s director of modern work security, thinks that conference rooms and offices could be used to increase camaraderie and spark creativity and foster water-cooler relationships in a hybrid environment. However, people will need to learn to adapt to 3D interactions.
Leanne Wood, chief HR Officer at Vodafone, says that many companies already use technologies core to the metaverse. However, it might not look like Mark Zuckerberg imagined. She says that “without doubt, new technologies such as 3-D environments, AR and VR will transform the way in which we interact with and live our lives.” “I believe that the reality will be a little different from the one that was in the headlines. However, the impact of technology is going to remain significant.”
And our company?
We at IKANGAI are used to work remotely. We’ve established a regime with regular short video meetings with small groups so that we can start the day together. We’re using tools like Slack, Dropbox and Trello to coordinate our work and to keep track of projects that we run.