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Meet the new generation of hybrid workers

According to technology research company Gartner, the number of employees in knowledge-intensive occupations working remotely either some or all of the time more than doubled between 2019 and 2021 – from just over a quarter to more than half.

It also found that, in 2022, 51% of the UK’s entire workforce expected to spend at least one day a week working remotely.1

One major impact of this seismic shift is that workers have more choice than ever before about where, how and even when they work – it’s not all just working from home!

As a result, our working personalities have been given more room to develop, and a new generation of colleagues is emerging.

Here we explore some of the common personas that are emerging as part of new hybrid working environments, and some of the technological, managerial, and other considerations that go with them.


The digital nomad

Illustration of a digital nomad arranging a meeting using a notebook computer while sat on a towel on a sunny beach

With no need to work in a fixed physical location, this person intends to take full advantage of their geographical freedom. One week they might be in Barcelona, the next in Berlin. Or they might live somewhere too remote to commute to an office, so choose to do most of their work everywhere else.

A 2020 study in the U.S. by workforce management company MBO partners found that 10.9 million American workers said they currently work this way, an increase of 49 percent compared with 2019.2

For managers that are used to the traditional working model based on overseeing a team all based in one place, managing digital nomads can require a change in mind-set. Obviously clocking in and out is no longer an option, so task-based working is key, and trust plays a big role.

But, for those struggling to find the right people for roles from local talent pools, being willing to hire a digital nomad – who might be located in another city – or even country– can open up large numbers of new candidates and make positions easier to fill.

Ideal working pattern:

Only in the office when there is no alternative to meeting others face-to-face.

Key IT requirements:

A fully-mobile working setup that provides reliable access to the network, but which can easily be packed into a suitcase.


The parental juggler

Illustration of a parental juggler using a notebook computer while sat in a armchair with a baby in one hand and a small child climbing up the side of a fridge

This person’s working day is governed by nursery and school drop-off and pick-up times and the family routine.

Regularly working from home cuts out the commute and allows them to maximise the time available for work.

But that doesn’t mean that full-time home working is necessarily their preference. Going into the office provides an opportunity for some completely child-free time and a change from often-chaotic family life.

At the same time, as more and more colleagues have returned to work on a more full-time or blended working basis, many remote-working parents are beginning to become concerned about a lack of visibility around the office, so a balance between working from home and days in the office is key for many working parents.

Ideal working pattern:

Completely flexible to fit with family needs, but with more home-working than office time.

Key IT requirements:

An excellent home-office setup with all of the amenities you would expect in the office, including ability to print and scan documents.


The on-the-go CEO

Illustration of an on-the-go CEO video conferencing with three executives from a remote office environment

There’s a good argument that CEOs have faced one of the biggest learning curves when it comes to transitioning to hybrid working. Why? Because they had to learn to lead remotely when the pandemic hit, and now they are making a partial return to the more traditional face-to-face management style.

Constantly collaborating and building strong relationships with others across the company and in other organisations means hybrid working can be a double-edged sword for business leaders. While it might bring added efficiency by cutting time spent travelling to meet clients and colleagues, there is a risk of compromising the quality of interactions, so there’s a delicate balance to be struck.

And, of course, it’s not just their own workload they have to think about, but often the productivity of the whole company. That means making the right decisions to allow its people to work in the best way for them.

When it comes to their working patterns, they’re the boss, and the office is their domain. But, being pulled in every direction at once can make it hard to be focused, so time spent working at home can be a welcome change.

Ideal working pattern:

2 days in the office, 2 days at home… 2 days out-and-about.

Key IT requirements:

Their day is more focused on meetings and collaboration than lone deskwork, so collaboration tools and dashboards to distil the important data at-a-glance are key. They will also expect the same amenities at home as in the office.


The newbie

Illustration of a newbie employee meeting a colleague in person for the first time who he tad only met previously on Teams

Most of us have been there – you join a new organisation and you’re faced with an array of names, faces and job titles that can initially feel overwhelming.

When learning the ropes of a new job, most people want to get as much face time with their new colleagues as possible to build relationships and speed up the learning curve. Being restricted to Zoom or Teams calls only adds to this challenge, which is why many new starters are keen to maximise their time in the physical workplace.

Too much working from home and they risk feeling invisible or lacking in guidance.

For the manager supervising a new starter, there are also advantages to working in the same physical space – quick questions are more easily asked, and informal introductions to other members of the team can be achieved with a simple walk around the office, not a series of diary invites.

Ideal working pattern:

4 days in the office, one day at home.

Key IT requirements:

Everything you’d expect in an office environment – and don’t skimp on device security while they’re getting up to speed.


The café dweller

Illustration of a cafe dweller ordering a latte and asking for the Wi-Fi code while using his notebook computer at a table

For this person, working away from the office doesn’t mean working from home. Perhaps they don’t enjoy always staring at the same four walls, maybe they thrive on the hustle and bustle of sharing a space with other people, or they lack a great home working space.

Equally, it could simply be a way to reduce commuting time while allowing them to be closer to clients or on hand for family commitments.

Whatever the reasons, for the café dweller, a quiet corner of a coffee shop – with a good Wi-Fi connection and a caffeine boost always available – fits the bill perfectly.

From a technology perspective, one of the biggest concerns for the café dweller is security. Public wireless networks are notoriously risky when it comes to data security.

The experienced café worker will know only to log onto reputable, recognised public networks, and that Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Virtual Desktop (VDI) services are worth considering for added data security for those that often work out and about. Of course, there is also the risk of sensitive data being viewed on-screen when working in public, so a privacy screen could be a worthwhile investment too.

Ideal working pattern:

2 days in the office, 3 out and about.

Key IT requirements:

Reliable mobile technology and ‘from anywhere’ access to key data and collaboration platforms.


The work-from-home recluse

Illustration of a work-from-home recluse surrounded by IT equipment in a home office environment

For work that involves lots of collaboration with others, being together in the same workplace is hard to beat. However, for those whose role demands a lot of quiet concentration on complex tasks – such as analysing large volumes of data or outputting large volumes of written or creative work – the solitude of a well-equipped home office can be ideal.

This is the case for our work-from-home ‘recluse’. They find their productivity is maximised when the distractions of the office are removed.

Again, visibility can be a challenge, and task-based working and trust between supervisor and employee play a key role in getting the best out of these colleagues. A delicate balance between providing the right level of support and micro-managing is needed.

However, for the enlightened manager that is able to allow ‘reclusive’ colleagues to play to their strengths, the benefits can be significant.

Ideal working pattern:

5 days working from home, only in the office when absolutely necessary.

Key IT requirements:

An excellent home-office setup with all of the amenities you would expect in the office, including ability to print and scan documents.

For those doing technical work, possibly a specialist multi-screen setup allowing them to carry out complex, advanced tasks as efficiently as possible.


The new generation of hybrid worker

Whether you identify specifically with one of these new working personalities or have even carved out your own niche, hybrid working has changed the office landscape forever. Organisations are facing the challenges of meeting colleague expectations around the ease and flexibility of working from home and the office, as well as ensuring that secure technology for hybrid working is available. IT professionals must also deliver workflow automation solutions that work intuitively across dispersed locations and implement device management solutions to maintain visibility of tech usage and support their colleagues wherever they are.

Discover more about how Brother solutions can support your hybrid team.

 

References

1. Gartner: 'Gartner Forecasts 51% of Global Knowledge Workers Will Be Remote by the End of 2021'

2. MBO Partners: 'COVID-19 and the Rise of the Digital Nomad'

 

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