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2022 was the year of hybrid working but physical workspaces are here to stay

30 Nov. 2022

An opinion piece by Workspace Advisory Board member, Steve Ramsden - ISG

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More employers are realising that there is no going back to the traditional work model that prevailed before the pandemic. Flexibility is the new amenity most employees want, regardless of the sector or specialisation, so it is safe to say that a hybrid work environment is here to stay.

Findings from ISG’s research report ‘The Power of Place’ show that the rise in hybrid and remote working may have changed the world of work exponentially, but when it came to encapsulating brand, creating a sense of belonging among talent, and inspiring people to be creative and productive, the physical workplace still has a big role to play.

UAE trends are in line with ISG’s global data that shows that though hybrid working has been widely adopted, the role of physical workplace in the hybrid mix has not diminished – rather, workspaces remain an essential ingredient in overall performance. ISG Survey results demonstrate a strong correlation between employee engagement and quality workplaces – with those reporting a good-quality workplace almost twice as likely to believe their organisation is a better place to work than others.

So, in a competitive landscape for attracting and retaining the best talent, smart employers should offer flexibility and also invest in places that respond to the aspirations of their employees – both current and future. Maintaining this balance is key and here’s why; flexible working options, offered by employers, for both work-life and performance reasons, are increasingly common and a differentiating factor for employers. Flexibility here means catering to employees who prefer a more structured office-based environment and others who prefer to work remotely and a varying degree of both, based on individual needs.

Forward-thinking organisations will continue to look to inhabit spaces that appeal to the world’s most gifted people. ISG’s data showed a feeling of disconnection from the physical workplace align with a 10% dip in professional pride in just six months, an eye-opening statistic if organisations are to avoid a potentially slippery slope towards transactional relationships with their people.

Our latest findings also show that quality workplaces continue to play a pivotal role in instilling a sense of pride and positivity in people. Employers who wish to inspire such feeling must look beyond financial recompense and focus on the unspoken psychological contract with their people. After all, an office is the physical embodiment of a company, its culture,  ethos, and values.

Ultimately, the way we work is experiencing its first major shift in almost 100 years, the pace and degree of this change must align with the needs of each organisation and its employees. Recent history has demonstrated that brands cannot expect to flourish, if they ignore disruption and neglect to embrace flexibility in the way they do things. How the hybrid work culture ultimately shapes up remains uncertain, but what is certain is the office environment is here to stay, though yesterday’s iteration of it will never fully return.