Can a hybrid work model really succeed?
Future A16Z notes that the world is undergoing a permanent shift in civilization, where physical location and economic gain are no longer tethered. As companies scramble to maintain a modicum of leverage over employees, hybrid work models seem to be the best option.
Freelancers or employees?
A recent study by Emergent Research and MBO partners finds that Americans identifying as digital nomads increased in number to 10.9 million in 2020 from 7.3 million in 2019. Formerly, digital nomads were mainly comprised of entrepreneurs, freelancers and contractors in the software development, journalism and marketing industry, but the recent near-50% increase shows a far more diverse field of workers. While the work is currently shifting to being hybrid, the work management and culture is far from ready. The requirement for remote work augmented in early 2020, taking many companies by surprise. Today, a number of organizations are unprepared on how to truly oversee hybrid workplaces and must work hard to adapt.
Policies must be updated
Early disagreements and conflicts surrounding remote staff have often centered around security issues and BYOD (bring-your-own-device). IT leaders strongly opposed BYOD, and CFOs saw it as a way to put financial responsibility on employees' shoulders. The attractive notion of making employees pay for work devices won out, and BYOD became a norm, requiring new policies. Likewise, digital nomad and remote work employees require specific work policies to be in place as well as legal ramifications of how they are managed to be revisited.
Hybrid work-friendly tools are needed
To find the answer to hybrid work, the use of different tools may not be the only one. Instead, a commitment to digitization, digital communication systems, cloud applications and services, mobile services and devices must be made. Cybersecurity is an essential concern for remote work. Organizations must review and approve tools to be used on company projects.
What about labor laws?
Labor laws are set in the jurisdiction where the employee lives, not based on the company headquarters; this idea is obsolete. Full-time employees also see themselves doing business on the road, rather than at home or work. Laws tend to assume that an employee works from a single place of residence, close to their place of employment. Reconciling this may require changes in legislation.
Silicon Valley is pushing back
Many large technology companies are hesitant in letting employees work full time. Google announced that 20% of the 135,000 employees will be required work in-house full time, and only 60% of employees can work remotely for up to two days a week. A mere 20% will be allowed to work remotely full time.
Companies want control
The one big difference between part-time remote and full-time remote work is that part-time employees are tethered to a location near the office. On the other hand, remote workers can move anywhere across the world. By imposing limitations on full-time remote work, companies have more control over their employees.
Employees have had a taste of freedom from the office, and many aren't willing to return to a cubicle or workstation. Employers are seeking compromises, and hybrid seems to be the best option.
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