Hybrid work is here to stay: winning strategies for landlords and employers

by FM Media
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REwork Summit 2023
While the shift to hybrid work is expected to stay, the future of the traditional CBD office – and what that means for workers – is decidedly hazy. The REwork Summit offers facilities managers and other workplace leaders a chance to plan their future of work.

A lot of the change we’re seeing in the world of work isn’t entirely new. People were already working remotely and meeting over video before the COVID-19 pandemic. But the pandemic may have accelerated the transition to hybrid work, as now almost 75 percent of Australian workers want to work in an omnichannel environment (across multiple places and spaces).

While many employees have embraced working from home, leaders are conflicted. Wall Street firms have been among the most forceful in summoning workers to their offices, but in recent months many tech titans – including Apple, Google and Meta – have also demanded staff show up to the office at least three days a week. 

For work-from-home believers, it looks like the revenge of the corporate curmudgeons. This view, however, is a little too simplistic. 

Managers lack the right omnichannel equipment

The reality is that most managers are simply not equipped to sustain innovation and workplace culture across multiple places and spaces. 

They have limited visibility into workloads and processes. They have fewer opportunities for impromptu conversations. They fight the feeling of losing control as they track progress toward goals. 

As managers encourage the freedom and flexibility of remote work, they struggle to recreate the cohesion, collaboration, and comradery of the office. As a result, their leadership effectiveness is at risk.

Successful hybrid management 

Australian workers have made it clear that the future of work is hybrid. Companies who ignore employee expectations for flexibility stand to lose out in the war for talent. 

Leaders really have no choice but to learn to effectively manage in a hybrid environment. But what does this mean for the spaces we work in? 

Ultimately, the office must be a place employees want to be. Since no technology can fully replace face-to-face communication, organisations need to think carefully about how their workspace can support these needs.

Research shows offices are here to stay

Despite employees’ passion for remote work, research from international design firm Hassell about future workplace models found that offices still have a place in workers’ hearts. 

Having no office at all and being fully and permanently remote was workers’ least preferred option. Hassell also saw significant differences between generations, levels of job seniority, and gender.

Rather than try and create a one-size-fits-all solution, organisations need to cater to employee preferences by embedding flexibility while supporting and empowering teams. Plans must also factor in the role technology can and will play, both in enabling their hybrid future and in shaping strategic priorities.

Flexible work saves on real estate

The other major consideration is that flexible work can deliver both better employee engagement and real estate savings. 

A recent McKinsey survey asked how far along companies were in implementing 12 practices McKinsey identified as key to developing effective and sustainable hybrid work strategies. Their responses suggest that many companies are still struggling to strike the right balance in developing ‘true hybrid’ work models. Surprisingly, even some of the most forward-thinking companies are leaving both performance improvements and more efficient real estate spending on the table.

The report found that companies that had prioritised accurate data around how employees were using workspaces were able to allocate capital more efficiently and design more effective workplaces. 

Enhancing the workplace experience

Developers and operators also have an opportunity to better support tenants as they transform their workforces and workplace experiences. 

Real estate owners and investors can attract leading-edge occupiers by understanding the industry’s new imperatives and offering services, business solutions and physical spaces.

So, while Hybrid work isn’t new work, it absolutely requires different strategies for accomplishing the same work under new circumstances. To make hybrid working work, we need to reconsider the role and design of the office, re-evaluate wellbeing, rethink our obligations, and reimagine leadership.

Yet with so many questions, it can be difficult to know where to start and easy to put an excessive amount of focus on short-term priorities.

Plan your future of hybrid work at the REwork Summit

To help organisations plan their future of work, FuturePlace is hosting the third annual REwork Summit – a hybrid event held in Sydney.

Taking place at Sofitel Wentworth and virtually from 12-13 September, the summit defines actionable considerations and recommendations across four priority areas: 

  • leadership
  • workplace culture and experience 
  • technology, and 
  • real estate/facilities management.

Featuring over 50 leading global and local speakers, networking activities and a solutions’ showcase, this a must-attend event for leaders responsible for workplace and workforce strategy, as well as office owners and operators.

Register for the REwork Summit now – limited places remain.

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