As the global market slowly but gradually breaks loose of the grasp of the pandemic, and its consequential economic effects, businesses are devising ways to bring employees back to the office. Tech giants like Google, Apple, and Amazon are leading the transformation of new business working models, including the hybrid work schedule. Discover how these tech firms set the example for the other industries to follow when adopting a new business model in response to the current and foreseeable economic challenges.
The rise of tech firms: how popular is the Industry?
In a survey by McKinsey, it is reported that the rate of digital acceleration was 85% during the height of the pandemic. Hence, tech firms were influential in the stabilisation of the global economy. According to the Financial Times, digital mental health (such as meditation and sleep apps) and productivity tools experienced exponential growth in 2020.
Another factor that facilitated the rise of tech firms is their unique company culture. Tech companies are viewed as innovators and this mindset for innovation is embedded into the company culture, as well as their work environment and company mission.
The promotion of innovation-centric culture is one of the secrets to success in tech firms, for instance, the well-known Korean tech firm, Samsung has developed a working culture emphasizing the value of employees’ abilities and skills. The motto of Samsung is to create opportunities for personal and professional development. This undoubtedly provides a good prospect for the employees' careers, as well as supports the company's commitment to excellence.
Besides providing a promising career “ladder”, understanding the personal needs of employees is as important. A flexible working schedule is what the employees in tech firms have been asking for. Google adopted the flexible working schedule at the early stage of the pandemic, and the tech giant also revealed that the transition to a hybrid work week should be purposeful – employees that report to work use it for team collaboration and brainstorming sessions, not just for facetime, and apparently, the strategy works for employers and employees very well. The success of Google is influential to other tech firms, like the mobile ticketing platform, Masabi also promotes an agile working culture that valued employee development and autonomy.
Why is hybrid working favorable for tech firms?
Tech firms are among the first to adopt a hybrid working model as it allows employees to choose a work location and schedule that suits their needs and personality. For example, some employees thrive working at home while others require the social experience of being in an office with other employees. However, other than fulfilling employees’ needs, are there any reasons to adopt hybrid working at a very early stage?
To answer the question above, the hybrid work schedule benefits are aligned with the capabilities of tech firms, which is why they are among the early adopters of this new working model. According to the PwC US Remote Work Survey in 2021, the survey of 127 US executives indicated that 72% are looking to invest in tools for virtual collaboration and 70% want to invest more in IT infrastructure to secure virtual connectivity. Access to tech tools is viewed as one of the enablers to a successful transition to the hybrid working model.
It's no secret that remote working presents unique challenges and that includes access to the technological tools that facilitate this work model. Tech firms have access to technologies that support flexible workspace solutions that are preferred for a hybrid working model. It is essential to achieve greater efficiency and to ensure employees stay productive regardless of where they work.
Another advantage that tech firms have that makes a hybrid work schedule a suitable choice is the development of virtual products. Tech firms are involved in the development of apps, software programs, and the like; it eliminates the need to physically show up for team meetings as these can be done virtually. As a result, flexible working schedules can be effective.
Advantages of hybrid working schedule
According to the Return to The Workplace Survey, about 47% of employees are willing to leave their job if they are not offered a hybrid work setup. It seems drastic, especially in a time of economic recovery, but it points to one of the benefits that you can get with this type of work schedule: empowered employees.
Indeed, tech firms understand that giving employees the choice of where and how they work gives them a sense of empowerment. Some employees feel more productive in an office, while others thrive when working from home or in flexible workspaces. By giving them the freedom to choose, they can develop a system of working that ensures productivity and makes them happier, too.
Another reason to adopt a flexible workspace model is the ability to access a wider talent pool. Tech firms can overcome geographic limitations when recruiting new talent to join their team. It is especially beneficial for tech firms that cater to global customers. You're no longer limited to talents available in your immediate location but can tap into highly specialized skills from other parts of the world.
Next on the list of benefits of a hybrid work model is the cost savings potential. Hybrid work schedule benefits include a reduction of operational costs since you eliminate the need to acquire business equipment, utilities, and furniture. Smaller tech companies can turn to co-working spaces and other types of flexible workspaces to access IT infrastructure and tools to facilitate the blended work approach.
Overall, the use of technology to bring flexibility to the work approach and empower employees combines to champion the workforce.
Examples of successful hybrid working setup in tech firms
To optimise the hybrid work approach for your tech firm, it’s crucial to look at how other tech firms have done it and what you can take from their example. As tech companies embrace the hybrid working setup, they will influence other non-tech firms to gain confidence in pursuing this work setup.
Google has developed what many would refer to as the blueprint for the hybrid work approach. In a blog published in 2021, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced their focus is to support their employees. This support extends to giving employees a flexible work week where they can spend at most three days in the office and the rest working from wherever they want.
Google also introduce the concept of “focus time” wherein they reduced the amount used for internal meetings, which allows employees to put their heads down on a project (thus increasing productivity). Meanwhile, they offer “reset days” to give employees a chance to recharge and to avoid the possibility of employee burnout.
Reddit is another tech firm that has emphasised its commitment to the hybrid work model. They designed workflows that promote a positive employee experience and create alignment. They built communities that allow teams to meet whenever they want or need to, as well as eliminate fixed desks at the workplace if employees report to the office. An agile workspace and spaces that foster collaboration are other measures they have implemented.
Hybrid Working: the new normal in tech?
By the looks of it, hybrid is the new normal in the tech industry with companies of all sizes adopting it for their employees. Rarely do you see a solution in the work landscape that satisfies all employees, something that the hybrid model aims to do.
While some employees are reluctant to go back to work, others are keen to return to the office. There is no one-size-fits-all approach moving forward, but if tech firms want to incorporate employee feedback into making decisions about their work schedule, this is the best way to do it.
How to start hybrid working as a small and medium-sized tech firm?
Though Hybrid working is the new normal in Tech, it could be difficult for small and medium-sized tech firms to operate a hybrid working schedule. Unlike the tech giants that are fully equipped with the IT infrastructure needed for the successful implementation of hybrid work, tech startups don’t have access to the same resources. Flexible workspace solutions could be a good start for SMEs. Below are the different types of flexible offices, learn more and you can probably find a suitable one, as the first step to hybrid working.
A private office is available in a serviced office centre. This is ideal if you want your employees to have a dedicated workspace that can be exclusively accessed by you. A private office can be for a single person or a whole floor for your entire team. This type of flexible workspace is suited for companies that want to preserve their security and confidentiality, while still having access to communal facilities to prevent the isolation of employees.
Serviced offices have been around since the 1980s but only experienced a recent boom with the growth of remote and flexible work models. A typical serviced office includes an open plan workstation, break-out zones, meeting rooms, and access to a reception desk and IT support. It is ideal for tech firms looking for seamless workspace management while having access to support services.
Shared Office Space
A shared office is another example of a flexible workspace. It is a middle ground between a managed office and a commercial lease. It gives the impression of having your own commercial space to attract clients and partners without the costs associated with setting up your own office space. It is an affordable solution for startups or tech companies with fewer employees.
Lastly, coworking spaces also offer flexible work solutions for hybrid employees and companies. It promotes the business benefits of being surrounded by a community. It features an open-plan work layout with access to common features such as meeting facilities, lounge areas, and the option for private offices, as needed. However, it is not ideal for tech firms, as tech firms usually possess a lot of private information, and an open area may not be suitable for handling confidential information.
The key takeaway is that ensuring success in a hybrid work setup relies heavily on building trust among your employees. Foster recognition and open communication to make your employees feel empowered. You should also take your employee feedback seriously. Based on the example from top tech firms, they encouraged employees to voice out their preferred work methods in the post-pandemic era. This gave rise to the hybrid work model as there is a split in employee preference.
Even with a hybrid work model that offers flexibility to employees, you must reassert work guidelines to protect company culture and promote company values. Keep this in mind when adopting the hybrid work approach.