It's no secret that COVID-19 completely altered the world, including the concept of work. As we experience the much-anticipated return to normal, many are surprised to discover that the new way of working looks nothing like it did before the pandemic. Today's buzzwords are "hybrid work," "work from anywhere," and "digital nomads."
Hybrid work – the sweet spot
Working from home quickly became the norm because most companies allowed their employees to work completely remotely during the COVID lockdown. Employees would save valuable commute time and associated costs by working from home, where they could dress casually and eat home-cooked meals. Employers simultaneously reduced office space and seized the opportunity to recruit everywhere, as distance no longer mattered in the new context. However, during the two years of remote working, drawbacks began to emerge. Digital fatigue manifested itself as a lack of social connection, which resulted in disengagement or, in the worst-case scenario, burnout, and depression. Humanity's need for social connection has never been more apparent, and hybrid work has proven to be the solution.
Companies and employees alike realized that as the restrictions eased, working a few days a week from the office and the rest from home would provide the best of both worlds. The concept altered the office space while also promoting human connection, flexibility, and team building. The office becomes a place for meetings, co-working, and interaction, while solo work is mostly done from home. Companies organize events and gatherings to encourage employees to come to work and foster relationships and social connections. While hybrid work is still relatively new, it has quickly proven its effectiveness as employee morale has increased.
The new wanderlust phenomenon
As companies became more flexible about employee location, the popularity of "Work from anywhere" grew. Hubs have begun to be preferred over traditional HQs because they provide proximity-based meeting spots for employees who want to meet face to face. Working hubs have expanded internationally as a result of a wave of entrepreneurs and employees willing to travel and work from remote locations. Every year, digital nomads dream of working from exotic beaches in Asia or from a large city, despite legal and fiscal constraints that continue to limit the phenomenon to some extent.
In my opinion, the pandemic triggered a chain reaction, and what we see today is only the beginning of a phenomenon that will evolve as companies adapt to changing employee preferences. Employees, on the other hand, have a lot more options and want flexibility in terms of location, social preferences, flexibility, and so on.
Working location becomes more of a choice than a constraint, and employees must make their choice based on their own personal context and preference, while businesses must adapt and accommodate for this wide range of scenarios.