Working 9 to 5, not a way to make a living… the rise of the hybrid working environment
Working 9 to 5, not a way to make a living…
the rise of the hybrid working environment
Here we are, closing the second pandemic year and entering a third one. Some of us didn’t think it would take this long to get through it especially after the arrival of the vaccines; I was part of that optimistic camp, but I was wrong. Thanks to the Omicron variant, I am feeling how wrong I was, especially while spending my holidays on the couch, self-isolating with my daughter and with positive test results and some symptoms.
Five stages of grief
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the emotional journey we have gone through in the last two years could be compared to the five stages of grief – as documented in the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle – we go through when something traumatic happens in our lives. At the beginning we were in denial; shocked, locked down in our homes, not knowing what to do.
Once we had begun to raise our heads and come out of hiding, we hit the second stage of grief; anger. We were angry with the country where the virus is believed to have originated; angry with other countries who suggested biological war theories; angry with country leaders who didn’t make the right preventative decisions; and then angry with people around us who refused to wear masks or take other measures to slow the spread of the virus.
Then, towards the end of the first year of COVID-19, we encountered the third step of grief; depression. What could have been more depressing than cancelling Christmas?
Having gone through denial, anger and depression in 2020, 2021 was more about the final two steps of grief; bargaining and acceptance. Every solution developed to deal with the pandemic can be labelled as bargaining. New rules were very difficult to adapt to but still we were trying to find ways to get on with our lives; new rules to travel, to go to school, to work, and to socialise. We found ways to bargain with the virus to allow us to move on with our lives and finally accepting we will have to learn to live with COVID. Acceptance is the final stage of the grief cycle and, at the beginning of this new year, allows us to understand why it’s happening, what is happening, as well as how to react and live with it.
From a business perspective, resilience, vulnerability, adaptation, transformation, mental health, sustainability, diversity, and technology were the most common terms we heard in our lives in 2020/21 but towards the end of that period, one single term outperformed all others; hybrid. By definition, hybrid means something that is formed by combining two or more things. For most businesses it means a partially onsite and partially online work model, and marks the business world’s move to acceptance that not only will individuals need to learn to live with COVID in their personal lives but also that businesses will have to permanently adapt their operating models.
A recent survey shows that almost half of employees (47%) would be likely to look for another job if their employer did not adopt a flexible working model. So, employees clearly see value in hybrid work. Another recent study by Slack found that flexibility is a key reason employees are attracted to the hybrid work model. Finding work/life balance is easier in a flexible work arrangement. When employees have more control of their work schedules, they can free up time to take care of the things that crop up in their personal lives—whether it’s running an errand, picking up kids from day care, or being at home for a delivery. This shows that flexibility will not only be about ‘where’ but also ‘when’; we will never go back to 9 to 5 office-only days.
This won’t be the last pandemic
The loss we experienced and grieved for in the last two years was probably the demise of ‘the old safe routine’, but 2022 is here for us to be more accepting; to be more flexible, more efficient, more balanced, and perhaps even wiser, supported through deep and personal learning from the last two years and from the challenges to come. Hopefully 2022 will be a transition year to move out of this pandemic but all the predictions are that COVID-19 will not be the only pandemic our generation will experience, meaning we will always have to be alert and prepared for the next one. The good news is, we are now better prepared than we have ever been.