HYBRID WORKING - Risks, opportunities and the importance of balance.

CBRE published a comprehensive research paper in March 2020 which covered ten work trends that, taken together, would usher in an era of ‘Responsible Real Estate’ from 2030 onwards. Less than two months later, we reported that COVID-19 has accelerated this transition by about ten years. One thing is for certain now that we are another few months on flexible working is no longer a goal or choice, but a long-term imposed necessity which has far-reaching consequences. The question is not whether working from home is yet to become a permanent part of your workplace strategy; it’s about how to implement balanced and carefully considered measures

Is working from home the new standard?

According to European sources, 37% of the labor force works part-time and from home. In the CBD this number constitutes 45%. This mainly involves knowledge workers in the tech, finance, and professional services sectors. Working from home is not a new development for workers from these sectors, however, the questions raised by these percentages are. For instance: how do we continue to be innovative? Is our culture changing now that everyone is working from home? How do we keep employees engaged, both with the organization and with each other? 

Physical, online, or a combination of both?

The best place to work is often framed as a binary and mutually exclusive choice: either being physically present in an office or working remotely from home. CBRE sees that differently; we see working together from home or the office as a strategic choice for that particular moment in time. In other words, it’s about a preference for sitting around a physical or ‘digital’ table. The best-case scenario is that synergy is created, in which the employee and manager set tasks and objectives together, decide who does what type of work, from where and for what reason – in that order. However, this is not the reality we see around us. 

MAKING THE BEST OF THE SITUATION Currently, most offices employees are working from home. From home, each employee then does what can reasonably be done remotely. The word ‘remote’ has two meanings here. It’s not just about the geographical separation from the office, which implies that the ‘real’ work is done there. It is also about the emotional and psychological distance. This is the distance from what is, at least according to the prevailing view, the essence of work: achieving something together from a place of engagement that helps the organization, its customers, and stakeholders move forward. Right now, this ideal seems to be far off. Despite helpful tools like phones, email, instant messages, and video conferencing, it is seen as ‘playing office online’, to put it crudely. The result is that crucial projects which require extensive collaboration are completed either at a bare minimum or postponed until a post corona era. 

How do employees feel about all this? 

According to Gartner, 75% of American CFOs see corona as an ideal opportunity to permit employees to work from home structurally and thus save on space - and costs. That seems understandable with a recession forthcoming and workplaces that are largely empty. The question is how these employees find working from home – and they appear to be rather enjoying it, judging by several surveys. The explanation for their relative contentment seems obvious: no commutes, practical technological aids, more productive working days, and a sense of flexibility. In addition, it’s naturally better for the environment to avoid traffic jams every day.

VALID BENEFITS OR CLUSTERS OF DRAWBACKS CBRE fully recognizes that working from home does indeed have a number of obvious advantages. However, one detail emerges from the same surveys: even though two-thirds of employees are satisfied, a logical conclusion is that one third are less than satisfied, or even dissatisfied. This certainly raises questions, if not concerns, at least from an HR ‘human-centric’ perspective. Furthermore, the results are averages and the ‘average employee’ does not exist. If you place the individual at the center, you include their personal well-being; not that of a large, anonymous group. The timing of these surveys also raises questions. Several months may seem like a long time but not for such drastic changes. Finally, where respondents live and work also matters a lot. For instance, 98% love working from home in London. That’s unsurprising if you no longer have to sit in the metro for four hours a day. In short: people who are working from home are still celebrating the advantages of wholeheartedly, but there are certain disadvantages lurking below the surface. And not even that deeply, as in some cases they are already apparent. we make a list of the three most important ones:


Please read the whole Report: https://f.tlcollect.com/fr2/520/73630/CBRE_Hybrid_Working_Report_-_2020.pdf

Source: CBRE  https://www.cbre.bh/