22 JUL 21
Working from home, work-life balance and hybrid working: What does the future of work look like?

Let’s face it, it’s been a year or so of upheaval. At BiD Masters, we’ve seen the sweat of the bid room dispersed across multiple home offices, with technology quickly claiming its rightful place as a conduit for a successful proposal submission. Meetings have turned virtual. Commuting has vanished from the lexicon. Working patterns of old have changed. And yet, successful bids are still being produced. Work goes on. Life continues. Work and life. Are they in balance?

It’s no secret that coronavirus has had a significant impact on our working lives. Before the first UK lockdown, WFH, as working from home is now colloquially known, was not standard working practice for the majority of workers. Self-employed people accounted for the vast majority, yet were in themselves a minority. Fast forward to now and we all have a lot more remote working experience under our belts, not to mention expertise in the tools that facilitate productive off-site working arrangements. Of course, remote working isn’t possible for everyone – it never will be – but it’s feasible for many and a transition to more flexible working arrangement might just be a positive thing.

Hybrid working, working from the sofa with a laptop and notepad

According to a survey by specialist recruiter Randstad, which polled more than 9,000 UK respondents about employer brand perception, 65% of Brits say work-life balance is the top driver when seeking a new employer. That beats salary and benefits, job security, training opportunities and a pleasant work atmosphere. Is this the WFH effect at play?

Being in and out of lockdown and consequently, in and out of our pre-Covid workplaces, has highlighted both the pros and cons of remote working for those able to perform their roles from home. It’s not all positive, but neither is it all negative. On the one hand, many have found working from home to be beneficial to productivity, allowing more time for non-work activities (largely due to less time required for commuting) and increasing overall job satisfaction. On the other hand, others have faced challenges, such as competing priorities between family and work, working all hours, and the lack of interaction. If there’s not yet a syndrome called “Zoom fatigue”, there probably will be in the future.

There’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all solution – some individuals will thrive in offices, some will be more productive working from home; some companies will happily reap the benefits of reduced overheads with fewer on-site staff members, others will continue to benefit from face-to-face interaction. It will continue to vary by industry sector, company, geographical location and products and services, all the way through to specific work teams and individuals.

Despite this, it’s evident that WFH is here to stay in some capacity. The buzzword is hybrid working, with employees working part of the time from home and part in office or workplaces, otherwise known as the happy medium. According to new research by the Adecco Group UK and Ireland, a whopping 77% of UK employees say a mix of office-based and remote working is the way forward post-Covid. The question is whether employers are listening.

The clever leaders of the future have an opportunity to structure their organisations in ways that optimise the positives, reducing overheads, retaining the benefits of interaction, but allowing some measure of work flexibility. Extremely clever leaders will institute this at the individual level. The ideal, then, is a work model that takes the individual into account while maximising organisational outcomes. It may sound like an unattainable work nirvana, but let’s remember hybrid work is in its infancy.

George Penn, VP at Gartner, said: “Success in a hybrid work environment requires employers to move beyond viewing remote or hybrid environments as a temporary or short-term strategy and to treat it as an opportunity.” At BiD Masters, we’ve always prioritised output, rather than attendance, so we’re embracing this opportunity. We can see a future where virtual and actual bid rooms are interchangeable, with a seamless transition between the two.