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There has been much debate about when and how we may return to the office or whether hybrid working will become the norm. What is the future of the workplace?


For many organisations this has generated much debate on what it means for working arrangements post pandemic – are we in a new context where partly working from home and partly in the office is the ‘new normal’ or will there be a return to the usual workplace?

It looks like employers and employees’ expectations on hybrid working are out of kilter, perhaps more so in some sectors than others.

Certainly, investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan believe work is best done in the office (or client’s office) and their CEOs have demanded staff return. A recent survey by Accenture found over 80% of financial services leaders want their people back in the office. At the same time, the Labour Force Survey in the UK found that 88% of employees who worked at home during the pandemic want to continue this in some form.

It looks like employers and employees’ expectations on hybrid working are out of kilter, perhaps more so in some sectors than others.

Who benefits most from homeworking?

Many ‘frontline workers’ never had the opportunity to work from home during the pandemic and the idea of hybrid working is really only something that might extend to certain types of workers. But which ones?

Evidence in the UK from the latest Labour Force Survey and Business Insights Survey is that opportunities for homeworking were experienced most strongly by the highest paid, the better qualified, the higher skilled and those living in London and the South-East. Hybrid working might be seen as a rich person’s problem and the opportunity to so do further underlines inequalities in the labour market.



The question on everyone’s minds is whether a hybrid either of 3 days in the office 2 days at home or 2 days in the office and 3 days at home, is going to pan out where they work.

显然,高盛和JP Morgan所说的那样,高级领导的看法至关重要,但是在他们的主张下方也是关于其业务中价值创造的一些重要假设。

In JP Morgan’s case the argument is that collaboration, innovation and intriguingly the ‘apprenticeship’ model of investment banking will be damaged if more work from home. In complex, team-based work with long hours and an up or out career system, being visible, always on call and learning from seniors are seen as critical.

这种员工控制模式已变得严重制度化,担心改变它可能会破坏业务模式。的确,这些金融服务公司(例如硅谷公司)设计了员工系统,使办公室更像是家中的家庭 - 健身房,免费餐,礼宾服务,健康和福祉服务(按摩,瑜伽,正念..)。这种“新家长式”确保员工不必因家庭生活的要求而分心工作。

The pandemic risks questioning this model and some employees having reconnected with real home life during this period may be having second thoughts about their working hours and location.


一项对欧盟和美国310万工人的研究发现,在家工作的人正在参加更多的会议(增加12.9%),在这些会议上有更多的人参加(增长13.5%)。从好的方面来说,这些会议比平常和总体上短,即使锁定人每天在会议上花费更少的时间(下降11.5%)[ii]。However, the working day is getting longer for these workers – up just under 50 mins a day with more email activity an important factor.


如果我们想了解家庭作业的影响,我们确实需要进行长期的看法,并借鉴这些工人几年来跟随这些工人的研究。在2011 - 20年间的一项分析中,研究人员发现,晋升的可能性降低了50%,获得奖金的可能性降低了38%,并且在办公室里的人3.6小时工作的可能性降低了38%[iii])。

So, perhaps Jamie Dimon is right – if you want to survive in the likes of JP Morgan being less visible at home is a career killer.

生产力和健康数据向我们展示了其他东西。根据斯坦福大学的尼克·布鲁姆(Nick Bloom)的研究,在大流行以外的人在家工作通常更有生产力。但是,大流行可能会对生产力产生负面影响,因为许多人没有为家庭作业设置,也不会选择随着时间的时间或在家中的时间选择,这可能会导致孤立和潜在的抑郁症的感觉。


调查的员工建议是的。这些往往to show that around 88% of employees value some form of homeworking and over 50% want to retain it post-pandemic. Surveys of employers are also showing some enthusiasm, and many are eyeing up the potential cost savings from reduced office space, higher potential productivity and lower levels of sickness absence.



使混合动力正常工作将是一个挑战。您应该为哪个50%的劳动力设计,以及其他50%的劳动力?您是否强制执行一个尺寸适合所有型号 - 3+2或2+3,还是与在生活的不同阶段达到他们需求的人进行个人交易?您对设备,安全,职业和发展方面的工作人员的责任是什么?您如何确保没有歧视或无意识的偏见?

What other flexible working options are there?

I said at the outset that groupthink tends to operate at times like these. The conversation is all about hybrid or not. What employers need to realise is that they have many more clubs in their bag.


For example:

  • Term-time working for parents with young children

  • 为那些有其他关怀,需求或利益的人共享工作

  • Shorter working hours overall for those who want to blend work with voluntary, educational or other activities, such as a prelude to retirement

  • Flexible start and finish times to reduce commuting times or fit around caring needs

There is more to the future of work than deciding on the hybrid format. Flexible working is a broad category and there are many options. Employees may want to move across different types across the life-span but the main point is that they should not be disadvantaged in doing so.

This is going to be the biggest challenge in designing work for the future. Perhaps the most important aspect of the pandemic is that it has reduced the stigma associated with homeworking and this may have spill over effects into flexible working modes more generally. The challenge, if employers are prepared and able to accept it, is to develop their capabilities to design work for the post-pandemic future.

。。。some employees having reconnected with real homelife during this period may be having second thoughts about their working hours and location.

What can change leaders do?

There are several issues here. Firstly, each organisation needs to understand its value creation model and the role of work design. For example, if value is created through complex team-work processes where tacit knowledge and cooperative behaviours are critical you need to understand what activities require co-location and which can be undertaken remotely.

这可能是很容易在三英洁具等环境tific laboratories where the equipment and artefacts critical for work processes are in situ. However, even here certain stages of lab work can be done remotely (data analysis, for example). In other contexts, the advantages of IT platforms, collaborative working spaces and new modes of computer supported work can be explored. Most organisations and employees only use a small fraction of IT capability, and the pandemic has forced many to wake up to its potential. Of course, this means investment in skills training which many organisations may neglect.

What is the most critical consideration for hybrid working?

The most critical aspect of work design for hybrid contexts is to understand the needs of your workforce. Surveys are showing that up to 45% of employees are considering moving to another organisation which supports more flexible working. In a tightening labour market, flexible working is going to be a competitive edge. This may be something that JP Morgan has not factored into its return-to-work policy. So, change leaders need to have an open dialogue with employees on preferred modes of working. This could be part of a review process or a component in a HR self-service model.


Another theme is an adequate homeworking environment. A recent survey by Microsoft on Work Trends[iv]found that 46% have insufficient work equipment and 10% a poor internet connection. Moreover, nearly half said their employers didn’t help them with the expenses of homeworking. A longer-term issue is the employers duty of care in terms of musco-skeletal problems and mental health issues. As the boundary between office and home becomes more porous this will raise lots of challenges.

We may be seeing the rise of a ‘new paternalism’ as employers begin to understand more about the relationship between home demands and work demands. This can be both an opportunity to redesign work and ‘building back better’ but it can also raise issues about the reach of corporate power into people’s home lives. However, in a tightening labour market employees may have the final word.

[i]Felstead, A., & Reuschke, D. (2020). Homeworking in the UK: before and during the 2020 lockdown.


[iii]Felstead, A., & Reuschke, D. (2020). Homeworking in the UK: before and during the 2020 lockdown.

[iv]请参阅Microsoft WorkLab:https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/