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Five global trends that will accelerate hybrid workforces

By Scott Stein, Leadership Specialist

  • Research shows 94 per cent of employees surveyed kept productivity at the same level or higher than it was before the pandemic.
  • Top talent can be secured regardless of geography and provide more flexibility around where staff want to live.
  • Resisting hybrid working will make it harder to retain staff and maintain the positive culture required to stay competitive.

As the pandemic subsides and lockdowns become a distant memory, many CEOs are developing strategies on getting people back into a normal work routine. Gone are the days when everyone will be back in the office full time with many staff demanding the ability to work remotely. Here are five global trends that demonstrate the hybrid workforce is here to stay.


Trend #1: Businesses’ need for productivity

All CEOs are looking for ways to improve their people’s productivity and get more things done. The pandemic showed that employees working remotely can be productive. The 2021 Australian Government Productivity Commission Report showed that 75 per cent of employees believed that their productivity remained the same or improved when working from home. Mercer, an HR and workplace firm, reported that 94 per cent of employees surveyed kept productivity at the same level or higher than it was before the pandemic.

Regardless of the research examined, the results support that productivity is the same or better for the majority of workers when they work from home and they want the flexibility of the hybrid work environment.


Trend #2: Employees demand for flexibility

Once you have experienced a new way of doing things that you really enjoyed, it is difficult to go back to what you experienced before. This is what is occurring for many employees: they are demanding a flexible work environment and they are willing to leave if they do not get what they want.

Professor Anthony Klotz of Texas A&M University created the phrase ‘The Great Resignation’ to describe the large number of people that will leave their jobs following the pandemic. The Microsoft 2021 Work Trends Index is one of the leading research reports that looked at hybrid work. Their research found that over 41 per cent of the global workforce was considering leaving their employer in the next year, with 46 per cent saying they were more likely to move because they could work remotely.


Trend#3: Leveraging collaboration across geographical boundaries

Another trend that many businesses have leveraged during the pandemic is the ability to increase collaboration across geographical boundaries. Rather than being confined to the walls in their office, staff now have the ability to reach out to other offices in other cities or other countries.

Recently I was working with a global financial firm that had staff located across the globe. When I worked with the European division the interesting thing that I found was they were collaborating outside of their local offices. This was leading to more innovative discussions and sharing of strategies, without the need for executive leaders to make it happen.


Trend #4: Securing top talent regardless of location

Most businesses are dependent on the capability and performance of their people. One common challenge that many CEO’s face is securing top talent based on the geographical location of the business’s office location. Now top talent can be secured regardless of where they live and provide more flexibility around where staff want to live.

Another benefit in expanding the location of where staff work. This will allow staff to live in lower cost regional locations and escape the high cost of living that is typically found in the big cities. By expanding the talent pool, organisations will be able to hire the best and brightest from around the world.


Trend #5: Advances in technology

Over the centuries one of the constant drivers of change has been technology. Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things will continue to drive the push toward a hybrid workforce.

This technology is currently being used in AmazonGo stores that allow customers to scan in on their phone when they enter, then grab items off the shelf and just walk out, with the payment automatically debited to the customer’s stored credit card — eliminating the need to wait in line at the cash register to scan every item individually. This technology is being transferred to workplaces. This technology includes advancements including the ability to use sensors to identify the number of people in a building and which desks are occupied or available in real time. This enables staff to easily identify where to work for the day and their colleagues to easily identify where they are for both work and safety reasons.

These trends and the research driving them show that CEOs will need to embrace a more flexible hybrid workforce if they want to be successful in the future. Those that don’t will find it harder to retain staff and maintain the positive culture required to stay competitive.

Scott Stein can be contacted on 0412 990 919 or by email at

Material published in Governance Directions is copyright and may not be reproduced without permission. The views expressed therein are those of the author and not of Governance Institute of Australia. All views and opinions are provided as general commentary only and should not be relied upon in place of specific accounting, legal or other professional advice.


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