· Worker attitudes to the remote/office mix have swung considerably during the pandemic · Tech giant Fujitsu reports 55% of workers now want a hybrid mix. · The huge variety of hybrid models across SaaS firms reveals uncertainty in the market as the situation evolves.
How are the tech heavyweights dealing with remote work?
Every company around the world has unwittingly been taking part in what has been a fascinating experiment brought about by COVID. Since March 2020, they’ve all been testing out the best ways to manage their teams remotely.
It’s an experiment that isn’t over yet - and while there are almost as many different remote work models as there are companies out there, even if the pandemic came to a grinding halt tomorrow the new remote work landscape is probably here to stay. That’s largely because the very people that have had to juggle their working and home lives (often while simultaneously wearing hats of co-worker, parent and teacher) have shifted their expectations and in the space of just a few months have recalibrated what’s important to them. And employers have had to listen.
Fujitsu’s experience likely encapsulates how it’s been for the majority of companies around the world. For decades, the idea of flexible work arrangements was possible at Fujitsu. But the reality was very different with long hours in the office expected by management and around three quarters of employees believing the place for them to be was the office. Then March 2020 came and in days, around 80,000 Fujitsu employees were working from home. Incredibly, within two months, their mindsets had completely changed with just 15% of them believing the office to be the best place for work. Almost a third said their home was the best place for them to work and a massive 55% of all Fujitsu employees favoured a mix of home and office.
That mindset swing seems to reflect the findings of recent studies of 1,000 people across a variety of industries. Nearly half of those surveyed have said they would now prefer some days in the workplace, some remote. While you might expect findings like this to be skewed to ‘traditional’ office workers, the surprising data emerging is that workers who typically might be seen to be more closely tethered to on-site working -over 60 percent of healthcare employees, over 40 percent of construction and manufacturing worker and over 30 percent of retail and hospitality staff - are in favour of a mix of remote and on site.
More tellingly however, is that nearly half of all respondents felt that if a remote/office balanced solution wasn’t offered by an employer, they’d start looking for another job. Whichever way you look at it, companies need to treat this seriously.
So what is that ‘balanced solution’? The term that has emerged is ‘hybrid’. But it’s far from a standardized corporate model. At MyAdbox, we’ve been trying to find the balance that works for our own team. In doing so, we’ve been keeping a keen eye on what the big tech companies are doing. On the face of it, you might expect these big SaaS companies to be particularly liberal around their hybrid arrangements. A quick look down the following list reveals quite a variety in approaches:
Google – 3/2 Office Home Hybrid model
Atlassian – guide is 50% in office – but team members are able to work ‘anywhere.’
Amazon – 2 days remote per week
Apple – mandate is to have employees in three days a week.
Facebook – Employees can request to work from home, but will be asked to come in at least half of the time.
Spotify – team member can work home full time, from the office or a combination – it’s up to a mutual decision made with their Manager.
Netflix? They’re still working it out, but the Co-CEO has said that “not being able to get together in person is a pure negative.”
So, the experiment continues and whether hybrid is the model the world adopts, only time will tell. Either way, there will be some major ramifications for organizations in the future. It has already transformed the demand for commercial real estate in our cities, with many businesses walking away from commercial leases in favour of casual ‘co-working’ spaces. Traditional work cultures are under threat and will need reimagining to keep teams on the same page. And studies have shown that despite enjoying more flexibility, there are challenges around working remotely – isolation, diminished team collaboration, ‘Zoom fatigue’ and burnout associated with longer working hours and weekend work. Managing the boundaries between work and life will be vital for the health and wellbeing of workforces in the future.
Fast internet connection aside, some of the most important weapons in an organization’s hybrid arsenal are collaboration and productivity tools. Companies must sharpen their focus on the best mix of tools to ensure they are not just competing in market, but are also providing their teams with the means to get the job done with minimal frustrations.
With the world at home, the array of tools to choose from has grown. There are tools for general collaboration, task and project management, scheduling and hosting virtual meetings and tools for Digital Asset Management and Creative Generation. For marketers, the latter have become central to the success and positioning of their brand and have become indispensable for driving efficiency, brand compliance and growing marketshare. “We’re dealing with the changing face of work just the same as the rest of the world is right now,” said Andrew Baker, MyAdbox CEO. “While it’s true that it’s going to bean evolving story, it highlights the importance of the tools we’re all using to mesh together at work. Our Brand Management platform sits at the centre of our client’s marketing functions, bringing their teams together and driving efficiency higher.”