Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Is hybrid work here to stay in 2023 too?

Work from office, home or anywhere became a norm in 2022, and continues to offer the best of all worlds to employees. What will work look like in 2023?

Samidha Jain
Published: Dec 27, 2022 02:11:19 PM IST
Updated: Dec 28, 2022 02:52:11 PM IST

Is hybrid work here to stay in 2023 too?The hybrid-model of work has completely transformed the way of working. This pandemic-induced change allows for greater flexibility and is a modern way of working Illustration: Chaitanya Dinesh Surpur
Hybrid model has been a boon to us,” says Rahul Singhai, senior analyst at a multi-national investment bank and financial services company, as he interacts with Forbes India while on a ‘workation’ (work + vacation) with his friends in Udaipur. Singhai, like a number of employees, has preferred a hybrid work model post the pandemic, which means he has the flexibility to work both in office, from home or anywhere.  Companies, too, have been adapting themselves to newer concepts of work culture.

In 2022, while employees continued to adapt to work-from-home and work-from-anywhere, employers thought of ways to bring the workforce back to offices after a long, pandemic-induced gap. Companies used incentives such as afternoon naps, wellness bonuses, and biannual appraisals to lure employees back to the workplace. Many employees, however, seemed to prefer the hybrid work model the most because of the flexibility it offers.

A report by SaaS company WorkInSync, which came out in May 2022, revealed that 54 percent employees were considering quitting if they aren’t given the flexibility of a hybrid work environment.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry recently announced new work-from-home (WFH) rules for special economic zones (SEZs), under which there will be no need for an SEZ unit to seek approval for WFH, and there will be no restriction on the extent of WFH that can be enabled. This facility is available till the end of 2023.

“The hybrid-model of work has completely transformed the way of working. This pandemic-induced change allows for greater flexibility and is a modern way of working,” says Prashant Deshpande, corporate head-HR, Borosil Group.

“I feel the hybrid model gives you the best of both worlds, it lets me have a whole lot of family and personal time while also allowing me to experience the workspace culture,” says Judith Pereira, content writer at a beauty and cosmetic products company.

Both Singhai, 23, and Pereira, 21, have started working in their respective companies as their first jobs, which first began as a complete remote opportunity. Both are of the opinion that a hybrid work model allows for employees to enjoy a work-life balance and is also preferable for their mental and physical well-being. “For me, the hybrid model is a blessing. It allows me to go to the gym regularly, learn a new language, and be mentally stable, besides working,” adds Pereira.

Also read: 7 tips to thrive in a hybrid work environment

For both employers and employees, the hybrid work model has been proving to be a win-win. While employees can save on travel time and commuting expenses, especially in big cities, firms can save on office expenses and utility bills. Hybrid working continues to be the most preferred workspace strategy, with 63 percent of firms currently embracing the same, as per a September survey of large, mid-sized and small Indian firms conducted by Colliers.

Also read: Has hybridity killed teamwork?

Why Go Hybrid?

For employees, the flexibility being offered by hybrid work is specifically attractive. This seems to have led to a culture of mutual understanding between the employer and the employee on the allocated work to be done, irrespective of the place from where the tasks are being accomplished. “With the hybrid model, it’s not necessary for us to spend 10 hours at the office. We can do our allocated work and be honest to that, and to ourselves,” says Singhai. “It’s not like if we are working from home, we are doing less work. We are working with the same agility but we are also managing our mental health and our physical wellbeing.”

A hybrid model is allowing employees to explore other activities which interest them such as content creation, learning new skills or taking up extra work—moonlight—in order to make ends meet. It also gives employees the liberty to choose days and timings that best suit them to be at office, a liberty especially advantageous for women who can choose to attend international meetings and calls which usually take place at night, from the safety of their homes.

“Thanks to the hybrid model, I have already taken a couple of workations–working and simultaneously having a vacation, having a life, having the liberty to go to places with my friends. I think it’s like rocking both worlds. I achieved the deliverables and even visited a new place with a bunch of my friends!” Singhai says.

Check Out: Rewind 2022: Year in Review

The Downside

A hybrid work model sometimes makes it difficult for employers to collaborate with employees, especially since much of this collaboration needs to take place on online video calling platforms. For employees to ensure high-speed connectivity at all times, on all locations might become a cause of concern while working with this sort of a model. Other than that, the hybrid model can lead to faster employee burnout, which can eventually lead to the quiet-quitting phenomenon wherein employees stop putting in extra efforts or taking initiatives at the workplace, and instead simply do only the work that is absolutely necessary.

Watch here: Rewind 2022: Year in Review All Major Events That Happened This Year

Moreover, a hybrid work model could be difficult to manage in industries such as health care, teaching, nursing etc. “Despite all the benefits of this model, one must realise that it is not a one-size-fits-all model of work. It works differently for different organisations and their employees,” adds Deshpande.

But it seems like the hybrid model of work is here to stay due to the flexibility and autonomy it offers employees. Rather than go back to the work-from-office model, “companies should evolve with the generation and adapt to the hybrid model”, says Singhai.

(This story appears in the 30 December, 2022 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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