The shift to hybrid working that has taken place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink work, redefine the social contract and explore new and better ways of creating value. In other words, to define a new future of work that does not simply make do with the new normal but makes it better.
In Changing Places: How hybrid work is rewriting the rule book, we explore some of the critical challenges and emerging possibilities organisations now face and ask: how can businesses go beyond acknowledging that there’s no going back and realise the enormous opportunities hybrid working presents?
The report offers insights and practical recommendations on how organisations can successfully realise the benefits of hybrid work in the near, medium and long term. It proposes meaningful steps forward that can best balance the interests of employees, employers and our economy, placing emphasis on how employees work best, boosting their experience and wellbeing, meeting organisational obligations and setting a foundation for future growth.
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. To help organisations plan their future of work, Changing Places: How hybrid work is rewriting the rule book defines actionable considerations and recommendations on five priority areas across three horizons: the return to the office, work after the vaccine, and empowering future growth.
COVID-19 created a deep, but short term, economic dip in Australian CBDs due to falling occupancy levels. However, the value of the CBD as a base for organisations will continue given its role as the most central and accessible place to bring talent together. To make the most of our CBD workplaces, organisations must plan for a more flexible future that takes into account local CBD conditions and helps employees justify the cost of the commute.
There’s clear evidence that a return to the office routine of pre-COVID-19 days is not most employees’ preferred option. But what does our new hybrid normal mean for our workspaces? The answer for each organisation will be unique, with business strategy and employee sentiment at its core, but the path to getting there may have some similarities. Most importantly, it’s time to get comfortable with experimentation.
Hybrid working doesn’t only challenge where we work, but when and how much we work too. Organisations must now consider every aspect of work through a wellbeing lens. A heightened focus on employee mental health and wellbeing will be critical not only for making hybrid working work, but for boosting engagement, connection and productivity.
To realise the opportunities of hybrid working, organisations must get clear on the rights and obligations of – and towards – their employees. From workplace health and safety, to impacts on remuneration and performance management, organisations risk impacts on staff retention, productivity and costs unless they take the necessary steps to make hybrid working work.
Traditional methods of identifying and meeting employee needs are not just less effective in a world of remote work, but are becoming increasingly irrelevant. With leadership never more critical to the success of your organisation, it’s time to adopt a leadership model that prioritises connectivity and team empowerment over control and centralised decision-making.
Lead Partner, Future of Work, PwC Australia
Tel: +61 424 299 014
Dr Ben Hamer
Lead, Future of Work, PwC Australia
Tel: +61 437 159 517