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June 25, 2021

The Future of Work is Hybrid, but How? Navigating the Complexities


As businesses start to open and people have started to put their masks aside, the debate on the work schedule continues with whether the hybrid work model is going to be the next thing or not.

At this week’s ITEXPO Supershow in Miami, we saw a wide range of people sharing multiple ideas depending on which industries they are in and their employees’ feelings regarding the future of work.

Here are a few highlights from a panel discussion held earlier this week:

Lisa Walker, VP of brand and resident workforce futurist at Fuse, said her team produces an annual study about the future of work, and have been investing in research around perceptions and attitudes associated with the future of flexible work.

Simon Lau, VP of a silicon-based startup Otter believes in the hybrid work model as his company builds an AI software to transcribe meetings and interviews with Zoom and Google Meet integrations.  Simon mentioned that most of the time people are hyper focused on taking notes during the meeting which may delay the outcome of the meeting.

Lau said Otter can help employees focus more on the conversation instead of worrying about taking the notes as everyone at the end of the meeting can simply access the transcription for future reference.

Many companies are conducting their own surveys with their employees so they can better understand their views on hybrid work schedules. While a small number of people want to go back to the office full-time, another small group is inclined to work fully remotely as they adapted to that during the pandemic.

Most report a “big fat middle” of employees who want a mix of both - a balanced, hybrid schedule.

The definition of hybrid has changed from “when you work” to “where you work” during the pandemic. Many companies who have conducted the survey got similar results - three days in, two days out. While we saw different opinions during a panel discussion at ITEXPO in the Future of Work track, each one of them seemed to be right in their way.

Brian Martin, CTO of 8x8 said that while there is no playbook for the schedule as no one signed up for both extremes- (fully remote or office) most employees want “three/two” models.

The survey Otter conducted the survey showed 14% remote workers wish to return to the office full time five days per week, and at the other end of the spectrum, 20% workers who just want to work remote. The middle 45% want to work between one to three days per week.

Going from a totally remote or a totally office-centric workplace to a hybrid arrangement could be a major culture shock. People working from home may feel left out and new employees may find it difficult to connect with their co-workers, a feeling all shared.

Roles flexibility was another topic of discussion.

While some industries are suited to hybrid or even fully remote if they need to be (for example in high tech or professional services and even sub-industries like the financial sector), one can also think about frontline workers in all industries who can be flexible in adapting the hybrid model. Even in frontline roles, in healthcare, public safety, military service, hospitality and more, there may still be opportunities for more flexibility, and some degree of hybrid.

The reference of Apple Genius Bar was given, where only for primary hardware repairs one has to book an appointment and go in the store, while software support is more efficiently and conveniently done through online channels via chat or emails.

How can a hybrid model support diversity in recruiting and hiring?

Walker answered saying that companies can start by hiring employees from across the globe remotely to tap the broader pool of talent in terms of diversification. There are a lot of other moving parts, but the willingness to offer remote work can open up interesting new opportunities.

How can the hybrid model affect the different time-zone work routines?

With colleagues in different parts of the world, sometimes the team has to rely on more asynchronous communications, but online collaboration tools, which continue to evolve and improve, are in fact making it possible for global teams to get work done, using a mix of channels and platforms.




Edited by Luke Bellos



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