The word ‘hybrid’ describes: a thing made by combining two different elements; a mixture. For young Australians, hybrid work may mean a mixture of many things. Whether that’s finding work-life balance, maximising flexible hours, making time for study, or spending more quality time with your dog.
From kitchen bench workstations to afternoon Pilates classes, young people are paving the way for a hybrid workforce. But what does this mean for the future of work as we know it?
Australia’s youth are reaping the benefits of the work from home lifestyle, with 76% of those aged 18-24 wanting to continue working from home after the pandemic.
Currently, employees aged between 20-34 make up 24.3% of the APS, with most workers aged 35 and over. Young people represent the workforce of the future. Organisations must be equipped to nurture employees through the earlier stages of their careers to develop and grow a sustainable team environment – and that means changing the definition of ‘flexible work’.
The concept of a home office is not as new age as you might think. Originally published in 2000, ‘A Home-Based Business for Dummies’ states:
With a home computer and a good idea, you can market and sell almost anything in the world just from home.
21 years on and ‘almost anything’ has become everything as hybrid work has transitioned from an option to a necessity. We are now living the future and embracing this concept.
If you are a leader who hasn’t started thinking about this, you need to start now.
Leaders must reflect on the benefits of working from anywhere, and how this will shape the next generation of the workforce. While the pandemic has imposed hybrid working upon us, how do we think our way forward?
As a young person, life is filled with uncertainty. And if 2020, the year everything changed, has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Hybrid work allows uncertainty to be embraced, nurtured, and followed as employees can tackle life’s challenges, bringing their office with them.
While ‘flexible work’ once meant building up leave and having a few days off here and there, businesses now need to shift their mindset and embrace the fact that some of the greatest work can be done anywhere, at any time.
Striking a balance – the importance of staying connected
Despite its perks, establishing a way of work without an ‘office’ can be challenging. Without a grounding home base, connection can be lost as coffee catch-ups are swapped out for solo couch breaks.
In June 2021, the ABS found that almost one in three Australians aged between 18-34 experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress. With this in mind, leaders who are thinking about staying connected are thinking about the well-being of their team.
In the digital world, connectivity can have different meanings. Whether it’s checking in on Teams, slightly awkward Zoom meetings, or finding time for face-to-face interaction when it’s safe to do so, leaders who are doing this are finding their own way.
For young people, it’s all about finding routine, accepting the ebbs, and embracing the flows of productivity, and adapting your space to suit you. Acknowledging that this is a new way of work for many, it’s important to stay engaged and build an online presence. Ask questions, show enthusiasm, and use the range of communication methods to stay connected.
Nobody has the answer to this, we are all learning together.
Navigating hybrid work post COVID-19
In 2019, before COVID-19 was detected in Australia, about 25% of our working population was already working from home. While the rest of the us endured our morning commute each day and waited in line for overpriced coffee, had 25% of Australians already hacked the system as they rolled out of bed just in time for their 9am?
While the virus-that-shall-not-be-named seems to be here to stay, most young employees want to continue to work from home even after the pandemic, so it is important that our work environment is future-proofed, and ready to build on what we have learnt so far.
This means harnessing three key elements – flexibility, trust, and empowerment.
A flexible work environment embraces a variety of opportunities for our future workforce, it changes the way we perceive work and eliminates the common barriers of time, location, and accessibility.
Trust is a key driver of productivity. Since hybrid work allows employees to shape their workplace environment and approach, trust is established. Creating a sustainable work approach and enabling employees to work within their own schedule encourages empowerment.
Empowering young people to work the way they want opens endless opportunity for success.
Mutual trust is crucial to building a successful workforce, and no less so than in the early stages of your employees’ career. If you are trusted, you are empowered. To have workplace flexibility and discover the mixture that works for you is the ultimate level of trust.
If we can help you change behaviours around your approach to hybrid work, get in touch today.
Access Synergy’s Hybrid Workplace Framework, a useful guide on how to navigate the changing workplace environment.