Will Hybrid Work Culture Become the Norm?

A hybrid work model may mean different things for different organizations and employees. However, flexibility is the keyword here

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The decades-long culture, of getting up and going to the office every morning, got a hit when the pandemic struck us. The only option was to work from home (WFH). Today, as the virus plays hide and seek, some offices are opening on and off, while some others are still continuing with WFH. However, when all this is over, experts believe that we may permanently move towards a hybrid work culture.

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"Hybrid will be the norm, but with an increased physical presence. Companies may start off with a lot more virtual presence but would move towards more physical interactions, eventually coming closer to physical workspaces over the next 2-4 years. However, unlike in the past, flexibility to work remote will be accepted/integrated into the workflows," said Rema Subramanian, co-founder and managing partner, Ankur Capital.

However, it may depend a lot on what industry and which roles we are talking about. "I believe hybrid offices will work with a boundaryless workplace model, and we are a hybrid office ourselves, but I believe it will work for more mature companies. If you are a startup, you should be working with each other because you're still figuring out what you want to do as a company. However, if you know what you're doing as a company and are familiar with the processes, the hybrid culture can be very effective," said Varun Mayya, founder and CEO, scenes by Avalon and a digital content creator.

Further, experts feel junior talent may need the physical presence of mentors and thereby hybrid may not work for them. So, for them, something like a day in the office and four days at home may work. So, along with having some employees work remotely, this hybrid culture is also expected to become the norm in the near future.

A Developing Concept

For now, hybrid work culture is not totally defined. As mentioned above, it may mean different things to different organizations and employees. However, flexibility is the keyword here. "The need for social connections and personal networks at the workplace is real and cannot be overlooked. I think flexibility is the key – organizations need to develop models where they have purposeful community and team-building opportunities," said Anshu Singh, vice president, human resources, Locus.

The pandemic has brought in an opportunity for organizations to evolve their working culture and experts feel that every organization should adopt the hybrid model whole-heartedly. "The culture will only work for the companies who implement it now and not later as now, is the right time. The hybrid workforce requires a lot of time investment, mindset changes and also, resources from the organization. One thing is for sure hybrid culture will become the new norm in the near future. It is no surprise that the job market has swung towards the employee, and therefore we believe that hybrid work is here to stay for the long run," said Pratip Mazumdar, partner, Inflexor Ventures.

It has also become increasingly popular among companies to open satellite offices in smaller towns to enable their staff to work from closer to their homes. "Satellite offices are being typically set up in co-working spaces in smaller towns like Vizag, Coimbatore, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kolkata, Kochi, etc. This concept eliminates dependencies on any single office while offering teams accessibility, agility, and efficient work environments," said Kaushal Pawar, director, people and culture, Leap Scholar.

Satellite offices are expected to become a popular approach for many businesses as they transition to a post-pandemic working model that benefits both employees and employers. "It allows for the elimination of commune costs for employees while also creating a sustainable model for employers by reducing various operational costs. Overall, I believe that satellite offices will be the go-to solution in the post-pandemic era," said Mayya.

However, personally, he doesn't believe that co-working spaces are a good idea. "It is very rare to see successful companies get born out of co-working spaces, and even if they do, they don't stay long. These co-working spaces, in my opinion, will not become the norm. There is a subset of the ultra-rich who use co-working spaces on a regular basis, but I don't see them getting much done because it's difficult to maintain culture and focus in a co-working space, especially as we grow," said Mayya.