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Published: 3 month

Home office: does hybrid working work?

In Hungary, the share of atypical work has always been low, with low rates of teleworking and home office work. Then came Covid, which suddenly forced everyone who could into the home office, a third of all office workers. And the explosion in technology supported this. With the epidemic gone, the return to hybrid working began. Today, the proportion of people working regularly and occasionally from home is around 8%, according to the KSH. The process is ongoing and the framework is changing. Trends and expectations are summarised.

home office, szavazás-

Telecommuting and flexibility seemed to work, as more and more research and studies came out showing that working can be more efficient in a home office. There has also been a growing demand from employees for this working option, for flexibility in time and space. After all, it can save commuting, it can be a better way of working in a focused way than in the office, and it is more compatible with family needs. You may even be able to fit an urgent errand into your working day, which, if your work schedule allows, can be made up later. On the other hand, the difficulties of the home office include the disruption of the work-life balance as the workplace moves into the home, the lack of social connections at work, the inability of teams to work together effectively, the weakening of loyalty to the company, and the challenges of transmitting the corporate culture. Research has also questioned employee effectiveness.

Home office meaning. When an employee works from home instead of the employer's office. This method of working often means flexible working hours.

This has also been a challenge for managers. After all, completely new skills are needed to lead remote or hybrid teams. However, the management mindset does not always seem to be able to shed decades of entrenchment in a few years. Thus, many companies have partially (hybrid operation) or in some cases completely ordered employees back to the office. According to global research published last year, which surveyed 42,000 workers in 32 countries, the extent to which employees returned (had to return) to the office depended on population density, cultural norms and housing conditions. Some countries allow only 1.6 days of working from home per month, while in other parts of the world the average is 4-6 days/month. In general, Asia has a lower home office rate, while Europe, Australia and the US have a higher rate.

In fact, KPMG's recent CEO Outlook survey shows that CEOs are increasingly firmly in favour of a pre-pandemic work pattern, with a majority (64 percent) predicting a full return to office work in the next three years. The CEOs surveyed also overwhelmingly (87 percent) foresee incentives for office working in the form of financial rewards or even promotions. In a technological environment driven by artificial intelligence, the need for faster response times and more effective collaboration has increased.

Home office: flexible or regulated framework?

On LinkedIn, we commissioned a (non-representative) survey asking respondents how the home office option is evolving in their workplace. We received over 2000 responses to the question. Two thirds of respondents have a home office at work, either on a flexible or regulated basis. While a fifth have no home office at all and 9% work full-time telework.

home office, teleworking, voting

Home office working

Vera Kápolnás, a consultant and trainer for Office@Home hybrid working, says that where working from home was not seriously considered - mostly in manufacturing companies - it quickly returned to the office. Some have kept a day or two as an indicator, but this has no real impact on operations. The new normal for most companies with office workers is 2-3 days per week in home office and office. However, the expert says it's not really about how many days, but how work is organised. Where operations have not been consciously adapted to work in a hybrid way, the system doesn't really work.

More recently it was SAP that publicised the company's global decision to compulsorily call workers back into the office three days a week. The reasons given for the decision were to strengthen the company culture and to encourage personal contact with customers and employees. In 2019, SAP Hungary developed and introduced its FlexWork work schedule in 2020, which provides a flexible, goal-oriented, location-independent work environment. Krisztina Dobos-Horváth, HR Director at SAP Hungary, said in the release: "After the epidemic receded, we regulated the ratio of office and home working to the extent that colleagues had to act according to the agreement with their immediate supervisor, but it became a general recognition that in many life situations, a social, personal presence within the company and in work with customers and partners is justified"

In the past, a number of major companies - including in the technology sector, where the opportunities would be there - have opted to recall employees. When we posted the news on our LinkedIn page, we received a number of very varied reactions. Some are sympathetic to the decision and the arguments behind it, while others are less sympathetic to the company and raised the issue of the disadvantages to employees.

"What about those who went to the company with the promise of 100% remote work? They can feel cheated after one of those. Because they were fooled by it.

Not to mention that with such decisions, companies are also cheating themselves, because those who value 100% remote will certainly leave the company and a high turnover will start."

For example, someone who has made their life entirely about working remotely and lives up to 200km from the office is likely to have no choice but to move or look for a new job. As has been suggested in the comments, motivation can easily decrease, which could also result in the employee leaving.

Some asked why three days, which may work in some industries, but in IT in particular, may not be a good ratio, nor is making it compulsory. An expert contributor suggested that collaboration can indeed be important for innovation and performance improvement, but that it should be dedicated days rather than mandatory fixed attendance.

Kápolnás Vera, Office@Home

Vera Chapel

"Anyway, the phenomenon is very interesting on a global level. Trends in organizational psychology always "ripple" with the given economic and political environment. When the economic situation becomes more acute, typically more traditional, hierarchical trends start to prevail, suddenly control in this area becomes important." - wrote one commentator. And recruiter commenters saw the decision as an opportunity to approach talent in the firm with remote offers now.

While some were sympathetic to the company's decision, "I also understand when a company is trying to rebuild a community and I can accept the mandatory part because we really do tend to get complacent." Others indicated that they used to have to come in all the time, which makes working from home for 2 days a good option. This was echoed by one contributor who is actively seeking employment, and indicated that there are fewer and fewer home office opportunities in the market, so two days is a good rate. SAP was contacted with the suggestions, but they declined to say more about the decision at this time, promising to provide more information later when they have more experience.

Are conditions tightening up?

A recent survey found that a fifth of companies have tightened home office rules. According to Vera Kápolnás, being forced to return from full teleworking is a rare phenomenon, and is only really a problem if someone has adjusted their lifestyle to it. In cases where there is a complete return from the home office, she says, it may be because companies have not realised the benefits and have not exploited the potential for cost reduction.

We also conducted a (non-representative survey) on LinkedIn asking how home office policies have changed in respondents' workplaces. We received 1576 votes. The majority had no change or even more flexibility in the home office, while 43% had tightened or even completely eliminated it.

home office, regulation, change

Changes to home office regulation

The expert pointed out that in many places it is a problem for individual employees to work even efficiently if the company's complexity is reduced. And this happens when hybrid operations have not developed solutions for effective collaboration, decision-making and work organisation. He indicated that where there is good communication, conscious working and work organisation, the home office can work well.

A prerequisite for this is that the operation and structure is transparent, if there is transparent communication about what is expected when working from home. Experience has shown that it can lead to serious misunderstandings and tensions if employers do not dare to state these expectations. It is also important that the manager is not out of control and that tasks and responsibilities are clear. And in the case of office working days, it is essential that it makes sense to be in the office, that's when you organise the really face-to-face and not hybrid meetings, brainstorming, discussions etc., because if everyone is sitting in the office with their ears to the ground, it doesn't really make sense.

The Office@Home consultant and trainer also pointed out that while the home office has helped retention and reduced turnover among those who have worked there for companies for a long time, for new, younger workers, where social connection is even more important in the workplace and engagement is harder to develop, working from home can increase the potential for turnover. The latter is true even if young people expect the opportunity, but are generally happy to go into the office. Of course, this is not primarily a generational issue either, but a function of job, personality and life situation, Vera Kápolnás summarised.

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