Hybrid work: Getting back to the office

A man and woman working together in the office.

There’s a new hybrid in town! And no, I am not talking about the new BMW X5 hybrid or any other engine for that matter. I’m also not talking about a recently discovered animal or a scientifically modified plant.

More so, a brand-new way of working—the hybrid work model.

Hybrid working combines the best of both worlds, where employees get the flexibility to work onsite as well as remotely during the week. In certain cases, employees can even work entirely remotely, onsite full time or choose a combination of any of the above.

But the movement to hybrid doesn’t seem as quick on the uptake, despite the want for social interaction.

Two years ago, when the pandemic struck, the shift to a virtual, remote way of working was sudden and immediate for all. And while the change was unprecedented, it didn’t take long for tech professionals to excel in the new world. They took up new roles, changed jobs, changed industries, and experimented with new ways of working, collaborating, and brainstorming with each other with ease.

While people made and accepted these transitions, industries drove change like never before. Organisations that typically wouldn’t have worked in a remote model revitalised, new business models emerged overnight, and digital ruled. We suddenly had a new world, with new business models – and many that thrived.

In March 2020 – when the pandemic first hit - I was travelling for business in India and couldn’t return to Sydney, which was home at that time. While my family was fortunately also in India, I could appreciate the suddenness of the change and the unknown scenario playing out in front of us – something that continued to be a constant during those early days as we continuously adapted.

Fast forward two years later and many of us would love to have some colleague-time and get back to working, collaborating, and hanging out together in a physical environment. Yet, going back to the office seems to be more of an effort as employees transition all over again.

There are some obvious areas to focus on and be purposeful about, like managing travel time, home chores, childcare, school, and, most importantly, figuring out the work ethic within our own ecosystems. Yet, as I’ve listened to those around me, there appears to be less evident challenges that are standing in the way of a seamless transition. Here are some that I’ve rounded up:

1. Many are experiencing separation anxiety with their pets

For most, pets are typically very emotive topics, and, during the pandemic, many people acquired new/ more animals. Essentially, they have become an even bigger part of our lives, which makes it harder to manage when one is away from the home.

2. Family life

Most of us got the opportunity to spend a very abnormal amount of time with our families and at home, and that became a usual way of life. This one may not be as tough as we think though - my family is looking forward to me getting back to the office and is very supportive of helping me through the change.

3. Home comforts

From home we were able to work from our own special, happy corners, which too could be a challenge to transition from, but something that can be managed and rectified with a hybrid model.

Our personal lives have changed dramatically over the last two years, and there can be significant discomfort when we try to rethink aspects of that. If you decide to shift back to the office, it will be about managing these discomforts and figuring out alternate solutions together while embracing change.