Australian integrated consultancy firm releases report on hybrid working

Mr. Martijn Joosten, Managing Partner for Australia and New Zealand at Veldhoen + Company

Integrated consultancy firm and founders of Activity Based Working, Veldhoen + Company, launched its research On the Leading Edge of Hybrid: Lessons from the Australian Experience.

The consultancy surveyed over 1,500 workers across public and private sectors in Australia from April 2020 to June 2021. The report draws upon insights from these responses.

The report also majored in Veldhoen + Company’s experiences partnering with organizations to adapt to recent disruption and develop post-pandemic workplace strategies.

Mr. Martijn Joosten, Managing Partner for Australia and New Zealand at Veldhoen + Company had some rather interesting insights on the report on the survey.

“Australia has undergone a unique workstyle experiment in the past 18 months with workers
expecting a greater level of choice and autonomy at work today.”

“We have spent three decades partnering with clients to create a better work environment and found that firms that empower employees to make informed decisions on when, where and with whom to do their work tend to create a thriving workforce with a growth mindset.”

“They are also engaged, productive and resilient to disruption at work.”

Effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers

Knowledge worker experience changed overtime during the pandemic. While the initial period of remote working was not as disruptive, opinions changed as the pandemic progressed.

Workers struggled with longer hours, maintaining work-life balance, to increased feelings of loneliness. However, over 80% prefer to work from home at least two days a week.

Hybrid work models look set to take root and become the new normal in the future of work.

At Veldhoen+Company, we find that conceptualizing and strategizing about hybrid ways of working make more sense if viewed through the lens of activities, even for organizations that do not have a workplace strategy based on the activity-based working principles.

As organizations in Australia and around the world adopt distributed ways of working, the office ceases to be the central place of work. It is time to redefine the purpose of the office and identify which are the activities best supported remotely and the office.

Workers prefer hybrid and remote work methods

Our survey results indicated a very strong preference among respondents for Focus Work to be carried out at home (71%). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top three activities where the office is the preferred setting are Create, Socialise and Dialogue.

They are characterized by collaboration and interaction and are better suited to open-ended, exploratory interactions. They also rely on happenstance and serendipitous encounters. As the proportion of collaborative activities increases in the office, its purpose will also evolve.

On an organizational level, to understand the rhythms and rituals of an organization is to understand the culture of the organization. If rhythms reflect how employees are in sync with each other to get things done, then rituals reflect how employees come together.

Companies that invest in refining their rhythm and rituals can engage their employees better, and keep them connected to the organizational vision even as they work remotely.

In the future of work, ways of working will become increasingly asynchronous and time and place independent. A line-of-sight approach may no longer be an option.

Organizations can build a productive remote workforce

Organizations should develop strong leadership practices of building trust, creating clarity and focusing on outcomes. These will empower team members to make timely decisions, and leaders can focus on other priorities instead of micromanaging reports.

The rhythms and rituals, along with leadership practices will carry through to establishing hybrid meeting standards. Since the pandemic, workers are meeting virtually.

Herein lies the opportunity for companies to ensure hybrid meetings are inclusive, productive and participatory. This requires us to be more intentional in why we meet and how we meet.

Hybrid meetings can be more productive, we need to avoid power dynamics and prevent exclusionary practices from taking hold and becoming normalized in organizational culture.