Hybrid work success relies on getting back to the office

The success of an effective hybrid work policy hinges on an effective return to work, according to a new report from Poly.

The report, A reset for returning to the office? The journey to hybrid workingpoints out that a reluctance to return to the office is impacting a potential hybrid working model, instead leaving companies with a predominantly remote workforce.

The report, which surveyed 3,000 employees in nine European countries, shows that employees prefer working from home, citing concerns about work-life balance and productivity. The reluctance to return is further exacerbated by rising bills and soaring inflation, with the cost of living putting increased pressure on employees’ finances, potentially forcing them to choose between getting to work or spending that money elsewhere.

A recent Poly study from 2022 that surveyed 5,000 global workers, including 508 Australians, tells a similar story. It showed employees were reluctant to return to the office, with 61% of Australian respondents citing reduced commuting time as the main reason for working from home. Half (49%) of Australian respondents said it was easier to maintain work-life balance while working remotely, with a third (30%) complaining that the office was noisy higher and more distractions. Of those surveyed, only 29% of Australian workers had fixed days in the office, with 22% working freely (choosing if and when they came to the office) and 25% working completely remotely.

“Return to Power lacks a compelling narrative, and short-term gimmicks like free coffee and donuts have run their course,” says Bill Zeng, senior manager, APAC, Poly.

“The reasons for an effective return to the office are well understood. More face-to-face collaboration is widely recognized as bringing key benefits in terms of learning, productivity and well-being as well as speed of innovation – but many organizations around the world are struggling to keep their people coming back on a regular basis, especially the bigger ones,” he says.

“People need a reason to come back, so organizations need to carefully assess the desktop experience they aim to deliver, and how that equates to the remote work experience — an equality of experience, qu ‘whether in the office or remotely, is the key to successful hybrid mock-up work.’

It’s about thinking beyond the benefits and thinking about the total experience provided, how the spaces work, the technology that underpins them, and most importantly, how to address the issues around people and Culture. The mindset of organizations should be to magnetize people to the office, rather than force them back.

Jeremy Myerson, Director of WORKTECH Academy, adds: “True flexibility in the world of work comes from a mix of working styles. Return to office (RTO) is an essential part of this mix.

“If organizations want to properly implement a hybrid working model, they need to go faster and further by bringing at least some of their employees back to the office once in a while.”

Norma A. Roth