Is the future of work hybrid?
As the pandemic starts to wear off after more than two years of intense sanitary restrictions, lockdowns and health protocols, and countries start to alleviate their policies, open their borders and even ban social distancing and masks, organisations have started to follow suit with return-to-work policies… But the response came with mixed feelings.
For many employees, going back to office brings a sense of normalcy and jogs memories of work life before the pandemic, where the workplace was undeniably the only place assigned for work. Though, let us bear in mind one thing: we have not and are not returning to the same workplace we left. Expectations for a mass migration back to the office need to be reset because reality is otherwise. Around the world, workers and employers are clashing over return to office plans, while some are threatening to quit if forced to be physically present at the office.
In March 2022, Robert Half, a global recruiting firm released a survey that revealed 50% of US workers would rather resign than be forced back to the office full-time. And some actually went forth with those kinds of bold decisions. Apple Inc. for instance deployed a return to office policy which had all employees sulk and threaten to quit. More recently, Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, SpaceX and new acquirer of Twitter, demanded that Tesla workers return to office or leave the company: “Anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla. This is less than we ask of factory workers," Musk wrote, adding that the office must be the employee's primary workplace where the other workers they regularly interact with are based — "not a remote branch office unrelated to the job duties."
So, it is clear from these examples that requests to return to office are gradually coming in from organisations. However, met with resistance and reluctance, a new mode of working has emerged. In a large part, in this post-pandemic era, employees with the ability to work remotely are mostly anticipating a hybrid office environment going forward – one that allows to spend part of their week working remotely and part in the office. Indeed, after two years of people working remotely, the hybrid model—understandably—seems like a practical way to ease into commuting and working in an office setting.
As an international management consulting company, we wanted to know how companies and individuals in Mauritius and abroad are viewing remote and hybrid work. Consequently, we conducted a survey, designed to gain insights both from senior executives of companies and individuals regarding current and future work models and challenges posed.