Work from home and hybrid working may just be how things are in the foreseeable future. At least that is what we have been told every single day since we packed up the important stuff from our office desks, slung our laptop bags over our shoulders and shifted to work from home (WFH) early last year. Speculation about the future workplaces and how the contours will look like, have come around as guaranteed as day after night. More ambiguity? Check. More confusion? Check. Any more actual clarity? None, whatsoever. If nothing else, let us just say that work from home will still be a thing for the time being and for companies that do resume work at offices, a hybrid style of working that sees part of the workforce return to offices while a part of the workforce that can manage from home, continue to WFH.
Twitter has told its employees that they can continue to work from home forever, if that is what they wish. A mix of home and office is how Microsoft envisions its offices around the world would look like. The company, which has been offering WFH solutions such as Microsoft Teams to make WFH smoother for the rest of us, continues to follow the hybrid workplace guidelines that were announced last October. That includes a flexible work schedule, work from home from as much as 50% of the work week once things improve and for managers to permanently approve WFH for team members. “We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual work styles, while balancing business needs, and ensuring we live our culture,” Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief people officer, had said in a post at the time.
Last month, global music streaming giant Spotify said that they are introducing the Work From Anywhere (WFA) policy that would allow employees to choose whether they want to come to work or work from home. “Effectiveness can’t be measured by the number of hours people spend in an office. Instead, giving people the freedom to choose where they work will boost effectiveness,” the company said in a statement, before adding, “giving our people more flexibility will support a better work-life balance and also help tap into new talent pools while keeping our existing band members.” This is part of Spotify’s Dynamic Workplace efforts globally.
Facebook is reopening offices in Seattle at 10% capacity, with priority for those employees who are struggling to work from home and would prefer to return to offices. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that even though Facebook offices are reopening slowly, employees who want to will continue to have the remote work options available to them. It isn’t clear when the Facebook offices at other locations will start to reopen. Amazon continues to monitor the situation and has extended the work for home for all employees till the end of June, at which point the policy will be re-evaluated based on the coronavirus case numbers and the vaccine rollout.
There are two sides of the coin, as it is with most things. Chris Herd, the Founder and CEO of Firstbase, pretty much sums up what a lot of us have been thinking. He points to the time spent commuting and the lesser time we get to spend at home with the loved ones and the health issues that come as a result of the daily running around. Firstbase is a start-up that provides solutions for companies to set up remote working infrastructure for employees. At the same time, a recent TINYpulse analysis suggested that new employees are having a tough time post the onboarding, since the office work culture and interpersonal connect that we find in physical office spaces, is missing in the virtual environment on Zoom or Google Meet or Microsoft Teams.
As things stand, most workplaces are still in the process of formulating policies for the workplace—something that will evolve in the coming weeks and months as there is greater clarity on the Coronavirus vaccine rollout and also how well the pandemic has been curbed. Work and industry permitting, it is expected a lot of companies will offer the hybrid option for users—choose between home and office to work, or even choose both options for certain durations.