With the world opening up in the aftermath of the pandemic (we’re assuming that the end of the pandemic is near), we are getting used to a hybrid version of normal. Some things are going back to the way they were before the pandemic while a few others have embraced the adaptations.
When it comes to the future of work, we are going the hybrid way. A majority of people who have been working from home for the last two years would prefer continuing the same even when the threat of Covid has completely passed. Research shows that 60% of workers, when given the option, would like to work from home. When asked in 2020, this number was around 50%.
For an individual, the benefits of wfh are immense. It gives the flexibility to balance personal and personal responsibilities or explore other gigs. But what does it mean for an organisation?
With the team spread across locations, (maybe even across the world), the managerial cadre needs to evolve itself to fit the new work ethos. Most of the tasks of supervisors/ HR are in the process of getting automated while the people themselves invest time in building relationships with the members of the team and prospective talents.
Traditional organisations sew themselves in a cusp of sea-change. It could be generational or it could be orthodox thinking, but there is a belief that remote/ hybrid work is not as effective as on-site. These organisations continue to believe in direct supervision, the team being physically together and scheduled work timings. The consequences of this ideology can be dangerous for two reasons, especially when the rest of the industry positively embraces remote/ hybrid work.
First, we have talked about the great resignation. A company that is inflexible about its work is going to find it difficult to find competitive talent, especially in a work where more people are leaning towards the gig economy.
Secondly, it brings about the question of equity and fairness in a workspace. In a hybrid set up, is the management going to favour on-site workers over remote ones, when in consideration for appraisals or promotions? Will workers have to reduce/ compromise on compensation because they live in an area with lower costs of living? What about the demographics? Most researches show that women and people of colour opt for wfh/ remote options when compared to white men. If the biases of on-site work apply, then we are looking at a situation where, without intervention, gaps in society will only widen.
But, these are fixable problems. Just like how we talk about up-skilling, the management cadre, the executives will have to retrain themselves, develop interpersonal relationships with the teams and build an ethos of trust so the work continues.
The travel industry has been one of the worst hit due to restrictions and border closures worldwide. However, the continuing trend of remote work means that people can travel at anytime and for longer durations. Chris Lehane, global head of policy and communications for Airbnb Inc. has commented that this “great untethering isn’t a trend, it is permanent.”
Deloitte, when researching the outlook of the travel industry in 2022 has nicknamed a new category of travellers called “the laptop luggers” who will take more trips in a year, as long as they can connect to work wherever they are. For hotels and other stay options, this means that providing a good wifi connection to their guests is now a necessity. It also won’t be surprising to see them advertising desks/ workstations/ office spaces that guests can use.
Moreover, it will also reduce the burden on hotels, etc. who usually have very set busy periods (holidays, school vacations) followed by a lean one. With this, guests will stay for longer and balance business and pleasure from new destinations.
While it sounds uplifting for the travel industry, for the individual, it can lead down a dangerous path of overworking and burnout. Rest and recuperation will take a hit as people can forget to ‘disconnect’ from the pressures of the professional world. So, to all the professionals out there, let us not forget to take care of our health (physical and mental) amidst the rush for professional victories.