With hybrid workplace comes hybrid culture. This has brought many of us greater freedoms in how we schedule our work and our personal time, where we work, when we travel (and for how long) and how we dress and groom (or not).
A recent experiment with employees at a healthcare company showed that the freedom to not share video on virtual meetings reduced fatigue, especially for women and new hires, who tended to feel more pressure to project what they perceived to be an appropriate appearance.
Personal hygiene freedoms aside, the most practical, major benefit of hybrid work is that it has spared many of us the burden of commuting, which saves time and money, and in many cases improves productivity – there are simply more hours in the day.
At the same time, remote workers are on their own enhancing their productivity and connectivity through devices. Gartner predicts that through 2024, remote workers will use at least four different device types for remote working. That’s up from three devices in 2019.
Okay so now a bit of the downside. Yes, the freedom to go off camera is great. However, seeing faces on camera is useful. It conveys expression and body language, which can help us understand tone, emphasis and engagement. This is useful information for presentations and trust building. Problem is, it can also feel like another unnecessary layer of monitoring and control.
Many argue that we simply don’t need video sharing in every single engagement. And not every engagement should require a prescheduled meeting.
In this sense, hybrid work hastened a cultural trend that was already underway: the gradual replacement of informal communication with formalized meetings and booked Zoom calendars. We feel less freedom to just pick up the phone and dial, or walk over to a colleague’s desk, uninvited.
Despite some remote workers feeling the Big-Brother effect, there remains a real need for monitoring. Gartner predicts that by 2023, 10 percent of workers will try to fool AI-driven tracking systems. The possibility of such activity will fast forward an organization's digital business transformation.