Innovations for the hybrid future of work

Skepticism about how productive employees could be if they work from home is also eroding. A April 2021 study by the Becker Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago examined plans for telecommuting companies after Covid and found a projected 5% increase in productivity for the US economy. A PwC survey from December 2020 found that 34% of employees said they were more productive than before the pandemic, while more than half of managers said average employee productivity had improved.

An equally widespread interruption is now under way in the form of hybrid work: while some organizations are pushing workers to return to the office full-time, many are preparing for a new normal state, with employees spending several days in the office and some work remotely, with a combination of virtual and personal meetings and collaboration. A CNBC survey of executives in human resources, finance and technology found that just under half of companies will use a hybrid working model in the second half of 2021.

“I see hybrid work as one of those things that companies need to fix,” said Denise Kaglar, PwC’s director of organizational strategy practice in the United States. “We need to rediscover the way we work together, and if we don’t make the hybrid model right, the company won’t be as productive. And in some industries, even a one to two percent change in productivity can make a big difference.

All of this is happening in a business environment where more and more employees require long-term flexibility after a pandemic. According to a study on the future of Accenture 2021, for example, 83% of employees prefer a hybrid work model. And companies are listening: they know that the choices organizations make now will be crucial, especially when they are vying to attract and retain talent in a competitive market.

“As companies prepare to take people back into the office, they need to recognize the needs and motivations of employees around work and how they have changed and evolved,” said Jeff Wong, global chief executive officer at EY. “Companies want to attract and retain the best people, but almost everyone says they want something different from what existed before Covid.

Organizations around the world are facing the challenge of working to establish the right processes, innovative technologies and leadership support to help them meet this powerful moment.

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