Despite the fact that COVID-19 affects the entire planet, it has also signIoicantly altered lifestyles. Due to information and communication technology (ICT), day-to-day office operations and work performance are taking a big leap, and there has been a major change in the way of working.
The hybrid office concept has become a reality due to the advancement of computers, mobile devices, the internet, and meeting apps such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, and Webex. In a simple definition, a hybrid office is a work arrangement that combines remote work and in-person work in an office. The hybrid office model ensures that employees can work from anywhere while maintaining a sense of community and collaboration.
'Work from home' has become a very trendy word these days. Working from home has reduced electricity, telephone, transportation, house rent, internet, and other expenses. No one has lost their job due to the working mode. Due to the ease and support of technology, it has become possible to work from any place using information and communication technology as a medium without going to the office. This way of working is called teleworking.
Especially market management, education, telehealth work, and daily administrative work can be done this way. In the coming days, will people work in the office from morning until night all week long? The subject has also been raised. The function of the office has also undergone a profound transformation. Many businesses, though, have not yet been able to adopt this new method of operation.
In short, some pros, such as flexibility in work, cost savings, improved productivity, and access to a larger talent pool, are eye-catching and help organisations smartly accomplish tasks. However, some challenges are also present when communicating with remote workers, such as communication, maintaining company culture, and ensuring the same opportunities and benefits as in-person workers to avoid creating a two-tiered system. To overcome communication challenges, Automatic relies on asynchronous communication tools like Slack and P2, allowing employees to communicate and collaborate in real-time, regardless of location.
It cannot be said that offices will not only become centres of innovation but also places of social interaction. Sometimes, ensure to come into the office for team meetings, collaboration sessions, and team-building activities, which allows employees to work from home or other remote locations part of the time.
One of the biggest lessons taught by the COVID-19 pandemic is social distancing. For this reason, there has been a major change in work. Based on accessibility, acceptability, availability, and reliability, office work can be completed using technology from a convenient location. Information security has made this method of working increasingly popular.
The fact that the possibility of employee absenteeism is low and there is no reduction in work capacity is also being made public. Some organisations also say that, due to teleworking, the productivity of employees has increased due to flexibility.
According to a survey by the American Society for Human Resource Management, 36 per cent of companies within and outside the United States want to hire employees to work from home. The same figure was only 12 percent before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking at the facts in this way, it can be said that the physical size of the offices will shrink in the future. The doors of possibilities in outsourcing and sourcing will open more. The possibility of additional employment has also increased.
Based on my experience working from home for the past 3 years, I can gain some additional experience. One centre of the project that I am associated with has been physically closed completely, and there is no possibility of that centre opening in the coming days. Due to this, electricity, telephone, transportation, house rent, and internet expenses have been reduced. No one has lost their job. The employees for administrative work are also working from home.
The company's earnings, performance, and the majority of its metrics have improved, which has led to increases in staff incentives and shareholder profits. Employees working on this idea have helped businesses reach new heights.
Therefore, this concept of "working from home' can be excellent. On the surface, it appears that offices operating in the traditional manner in the present cannot function in the future. The existing business's whole workflow needs to be redesigned.
The current situation is somewhat virtual and partially real, so it would be logical to run and develop the business exclusively using a "hybrid" approach. The best way to handle antiquated offices is to employ cutting-edge technology.
Information technology is used in management, operation, and service flow. Therefore, in the future, the structure of businesses and offices can be modified in a modern way only by using the Internet or in some areas of business. Offices prepared for this kind of new model should be able to give a sense of positive change to businesspeople, employees, and even customers. From this, positive effects can be seen in matters such as control of unnecessary expenses, increase in total productivity, modification and concessions in services, flexibility towards work, etc.
Large and technology-based companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and IBM, among others, have permanently allowed some employees to work from home and adopted a hybrid model. Some companies have even started closing many of their service centres.
Also, the concept of a virtual office is being used. The hybrid model seems useful for all types of businesses and offices. For example, according to a survey of 600 companies conducted by Xerox during the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 82 per cent of employees will return to the old office or work in a hybrid model by the end of 2023, and the remaining 18 per cent have expressed their desire to return to work from home forever. New technology-friendly policies are also required for hybrid or fully online models.
According to an American telecommunications organisation survey, the hybrid model will increase from 42 per cent to 81 per cent by 2024.
(The author is an information technology expert.)