Is Hybrid Working the New Norm?

Written by Roelof Steyn, General Manager of Product

Working from Home. Although some of us have been doing this for a long time, most of us have only become familiar with these phrases since early 2020. During the COVID period, companies have had to continually adjust to new safety regulations while keeping business moving. As we transition to a new normal, we’ve seen the introduction of Hybrid Working.

But should this be the new normal?

As a Product Manager, I believe that my personal views are irrelevant and only the data matters. So, let’s look at that data.

Working From Home:

Just by talking with people during the pandemic, there was an overwhelming feeling that everyone thinks that WFH was the best thing since sliced bread. We all heard the stories about being more productive by not wasting time in traffic, being able to concentrate on the task at hand and having fewer interruptions.

Several studies back this up as well: 83% of employees say that their productivity has been reported as the same or higher when working from home.

Many companies are switching to permanent fully remote working (Atlassian, Brex, Coinbase, Dropbox and many more) and surprisingly not for productivity benefits. But rather; de-risking being centralised in a single location, building trust, establishing a solid work/life balance, and reducing carbon emissions.

Unfortunately, there are still some cons to working from home.

Humans are social creatures. Our ability to collaborate and socialise with our peers was key to our success in becoming the dominant species on this planet. We are genetically programmed to work together.

And herein lies the problem.

A lot is said that the increase in productivity was actually a result of increased hours. Additionally, more time is spent coordinating meetings, and less time is spent networking, coaching and mentoring. All pointing to the lack of social interaction.

Most of us will be familiar with the impact of not being able to gather around a white board to solve a problem.

On top of this, 70% of people working from home during the pandemic needed to provide care for children or a dependent – creating interruptions and work hours increasing.

Another consideration that is often overlooked is the employer’s duty of care. What would happen if an employee got injured while working from home? Or even worse, while working from the beach? In summary, Australian law is clear that employers still have a duty of care towards employees allowed to work from home.

Working On-Site:

Let’s start by pointing out that both the lack of social interaction and collaboration, as well as the duty of care problems do not exist when working on-site; at least not when working in a healthy and compliant workplace.

That being said, there are many cons to working on-site: traffic congestion and the associated lost time while commuting, carbon emissions, increased bullying and micro-management, and many more.

Owl Labs Survey showed that:

  • 57% of employees prefer working from home full time
  • 74% said working from home is better for their mental health
  • 38% said they were willing to take a 5% pay cut to work remotely at least part of the time
  • 25% would quit their job if they could no longer work remotely after the pandemic.

This indicates a profound desire from workers to work from home.

It should be quite obvious that working from home is flawed. But this doesn’t matter if employees demand flexibility. It should also be quite obvious that working on-site is flawed.

Is there a best of both worlds?

Hybrid Work:

Hybrid work is defined as “a flexible working model where employees work partly in the physical workplace, and partly remotely - at home or from another workspace.”

And the data speaks for itself:

  • Study 1: A choice to work from home or the office led to a 22% increase in productivity.
  • Study 2: 4.4% increase in output was achieved when workers transitioned from WFH to Working from anywhere.
  • Study 3: 58% of employees had been working in a hybrid model during the pandemic and these workers had better mental health, stronger working relationships and less burnout than people who worked entirely on-site or entirely remotely.

Remote Worker Safety:

A manager’s duty of care does not end when employees work remotely. But how do you stay connected with your team to build that safety culture?

Safe Work Australia requires employers to implement a scheduled call-in system for remote and isolated workers. SafetyIQ’s suite of features provides a scheduled check-in system for mobile, remote, and isolated workers to help employers in managing the risks of a remote workforce. Find out how SafetyIQ can help you make the transition to an effective hybrid working environment here.


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