What’s going on with remote working? Part 2: potential solutions to ease conflicts between employees and employers

What’s going on with remote working? Part 2: potential solutions to ease conflicts between employees and employers

Hybrid working mode 

We have said it once, and we are saying it again (and maybe many times more) – hybrid working emerges as the premier solution for both employees and employers. While the permanence of remote working remains uncertain, hybrid work has been on the rise. And for good reason.


Flexibility is the key for future work. For employees, the allure of hybrid working lies in its ability to offer the much-desired flexibility required to strike a balance between personal and professional commitments. By opting for a hybrid work arrangement, employees can designate certain days for in-office tasks, allowing for greater efficiency and focused collaboration. On remote days, they have the flexibility to attend to personal matters while effectively fulfilling their professional obligations. Gone are the days of feeling isolated or sequestered, as hybrid work fosters a renewed sense of connection and belonging on office days that was often lacking in full-time remote work.

Moreover, returning to the office a few days a week serves as a catalyst for collaboration and collective creativity. While virtual platforms have facilitated communication during the pandemic, the incomparable dynamics of in-person interactions have proven essential in the creative process. The resurgence of brainstorming sessions within physical office spaces brings about a renewed sense of camaraderie among employees, fostering teamwork and inspiring innovation across departments. HR managers are grappling with the challenges of hiring employees who commit to full-time office presence, with over 80% acknowledging the increasing difficulty in attracting such talent. In light of these trends, a reconsideration of rigid 5-day workweeks seems prudent.

And how?

Shifting to a hybrid work model doesn’t have to be complicated for employers. By implementing policies that blend 2 or 3 in-office days each week, a balance can be struck between the flexibility of remote work and the advantages of face-to-face teamwork. Recent research from Harvard offers insights, suggesting that 2 days working from the office hits the right mark for hybrid work success.

Survey data from PwC adds weight to this approach. A notable 68% of executives anticipate that employees will spend at least 3 days per week in the office – and 55% of employees also agree with this expectation! This blend acknowledges the changing nature of work while still valuing the benefits of face-to-face collaboration. As the path forward takes shape, embracing this practical hybrid model seems like a strategy that works for all.

Employers who have done it

Microsoft has adopted a “hybrid workplace” strategy that prioritizes both in-person and virtual interactions. Recognizing that effective collaboration often requires face-to-face engagement, the company has designed its office spaces to foster collaborative work sessions, brainstorming, and team-building activities. 

Another player in the tech field – Salesforce, has cast its lot with the trend of adaptable work arrangements. The company is poised to embrace a flexible work model, allowing its workforce to spend 1-3 days within the office confines. This designated time will be allocated for collaborative efforts, impactful presentations, and pivotal customer engagements. Meanwhile, Zoom, the “champion” of remote working, has unveiled its strategy for the future—a structured hybrid approach, mandating that employees who live within about 50 miles of a company office must make a bi-weekly visit to interact with their team.

Key takeaways

An engaged and satisfied workforce is more likely to exhibit higher levels of productivity, leading to enhanced overall performance and greater organisational success. Moreover, a workforce that feels empowered by a hybrid model is likely to showcase higher loyalty and reduced turnover rates, saving companies substantial recruitment and training costs. The ability to offer hybrid work options demonstrates adaptability and responsiveness to changing employee expectations, making the organisation a more attractive destination for top talent seeking a harmonious work-life blend. 

Shared workplace experiences – mix business with “fun”

These days, the boundary between professional obligations and personal life can often blur, making commitment to work-life balance and the enhancement of employee well-being stand resolute as imperative tenets of modern company culture. This enduring ethos, pivotal in nurturing a motivated and productive workforce, continues to find new expression as corporate environments evolve.

Encouragingly, a wave of innovation is sweeping through office spaces, redefining the very concept of the workplace. A novel paradigm shift is underway, wherein offices are re-imagined to seamlessly blend the comforts of “home” with the demands of the professional sphere. The aspiration is nothing short of remarkable – to create an ambiance so cosy and familiar that stepping into the workplace is akin to never having left one’s personal abode.

Navigating office dynamics with private working labs

As the modern workplace evolves into a nexus of collaboration and competition, organisations are embracing different ways to enhance productivity and shield themselves from disruption. Enter the private working labs – havens of tranquillity and productivity. With the curtains drawn on potential eavesdroppers and the door firmly shut to interruptions, these sanctuaries ensure that productivity remains resolute and undisturbed, standing against the potential pitfalls of office conflicts and politics. These private labs also contribute in the promotion of deep work without disturbances, creating a conducive environment for creativity and brainstorming sessions. 

Unlike conventional meeting rooms, private working labs go beyond just four walls; they’re designed as a complete package that includes comfortable furniture, soundproofing technology, and adaptable lighting systems. Working labs are more than just closed rooms – they are immersive cocoons engineered for peak concentration and creativity.  Private working labs morph to align with the task at hand – walls transform into writable surfaces for impromptu idea jotting, while digital displays seamlessly integrate with personal devices for multimedia presentations. Setting up multiple functional small private working labs is a more cost-effective option compared to establishing multiple conference rooms tailored for small discussions or individual work preferences.

Take Apple’s “Pods” and “Coves” as an example. Apple’s headquarters was designed with various collaborative and private spaces –  “pods” and “coves” to provide employees with private, individual or small group spaces where they could concentrate on tasks without interruptions. Google is also known for their innovative workspace designs – with small, enclosed spaces designed for focused work or private discussions. The labs are equipped with advanced technology for seamless collaboration. Some pods are even just blank canvas – employees can morph them into whatever they want, as long as it helps with their personal working preferences. 

Subsidised child care service

The idea of offering subsidised child care services at workplaces is becoming more popular. By shouldering a portion of the child care burden, companies stand to foster an environment where employees can channel their undivided focus into their professional pursuits. By doing this, companies are now creating an environment where employees can focus more on their jobs –  as the spectre of child care logistics fades into the background. Worry lifted, and employees can now focus on their professional commitments, enhancing their productivity and engagement.

Subsidised child care services offer a two-pronged advantage – they reduce the financial burden on employees who might grapple with child care costs, at the same time, presenting that the company cares about their workforce’s well-being and the struggles they have behind office walls. Companies can consider partners with existing child care centres in the community, negotiating a deal to offer discounted rates or special benefits for their employees.

A call for trial periods

Don’t know If you want to stay at home, or in the office? Well, have a trial then!

Companies should consider opening up trial opportunities, granting employees the valuable freedom to test out different work setups—whether it’s the tranquillity of home or the dynamic buzz of the office. This structured experiment acts as a testing ground for firsthand experiences, enabling individuals to gauge their productivity, connectivity, and work-life balance.

By taking the trial on in-office working, employees can express their preferences rooted in personal experiences. Organisations should tailor distinct workweeks for various departments, followed by soliciting feedback after a span of one or two months. This assessment gauges the compatibility of in-office work with their overall wellness, productivity, and creative output. This approach allows employers to directly acquire valuable insights into the operational effectiveness of different work structures through tangible observations garnered over the trial period. 

Trials are a prime approach to uncover what works best and what doesn’t—a principle validated by UK firms. In 2022, over 3,300 employees across 70 UK companies adopted a four-day in-office work week for six months, testing the viability of this novel work pattern. The success of this trial led most firms to embrace the new approach permanently. As the experiment concluded, employees reported a range of benefits spanning sleep quality, stress levels, personal lives, and mental well-being. While company revenue remained relatively steady during the six-month trial, it rose by an average of 35% compared to a similar time frame in previous years. Resignations declined, revenue rose, and well-being improved!

Bottom line

In the ongoing debate, the ideal of balancing between employees and employers’ benefits remains uncertain. Balancing remote work’s allure with its drawbacks, as the world emerges from the pandemic, prompts a reevaluation. The question looms: Is remote work an enduring solution, or should a hybrid model prevail?

Resolving this requires a nuanced approach that addresses diverse preferences. The compromise could involve a blend of remote and in-person work, catering to flexibility and collaborative needs. Striking this balance is pivotal for both parties and the larger business landscape, emphasising a harmonious convergence of interests while safeguarding productivity. As the discourse persists, crafting a workplace that embodies these principles emerges as the ultimate goal.

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