Regarding the various positive impact of working remotely, Indian employees stated that work interactions feel more “human and authentic” as a result of seeing one another families and homes.

According to the report, to beat the pandemic blues, coworkers leaned on each other in new ways to get through the last year. For instance, one among four (24%) Indian employees has cried with a colleague, higher than the report average.

Sethi of JLL believes that as mental health takes centre stage in a post-pandemic world, organisations will need to find the right balance between time away from the office and time connecting face to face, and that’s when the hybrid work model can show its strengths.

“Offices will become a central gathering point for employees to meet, while a majority of the work will continue to be done remotely. Employers will need to look beyond the traditional concept of the central office and create workspaces that are collaborative and technology-enabled across multiple locations,” he explained.

Hybrid offices are the future of work

Elaborating on the advantages of the new hybrid workspace over an existing traditional office, Sethi said that hybrid workplaces will allow companies to optimise real estate and give employees the freedom to choose their work setup.

“Rather than a single, central office block that must accommodate every member of staff, larger businesses would invest in a smaller, high-design headquarters to nurture their community and showcase their brand identity, complementing this with remote work options and satellite offices that reduce employees’ commutes,” he added.

The complaints at Apple, in the US, to a top-down decision to propose staff return on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday schedule is a reminder that these options should ideally be set in a somewhat collaborative fashion.

As Quartz has written, managers in particular will have to fight against some of the pitfalls of the hybrid office, such as “proximity bias,” which is the tendency to favour the people they see the most often. Similarly, they should resist the temptation to use productivity tracking software to monitor employees who choose to remain largely remote in a hybrid set-up, instead relying on trust alongside objective goals.

The Microsoft report noted that this shift will require good planning and injecting elements of consistency for employees—for example, with dedicated task or reference spaces—to balance out some of the uncertainty that can result from greater flexibility. But done well, it said, the hybrid office can help organizations “build digital empathy into every aspect of our culture—from global guidelines to team-level meeting norms.”

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