Explainer: Has hybrid working taken off in the GCC?
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Explainer: Has hybrid working taken off in the GCC?

Explainer: Has hybrid working taken off in the GCC?

The types of roles that can be performed at 100 per cent remote mode are going to be more limited, opines Christos Adamantiadis, CEO, Marsh Middle East and Africa

How much of an acceleration did the pandemic provide to hybrid working?
If we look back, over the past 18 months most organisations had to pivot at great speed from largely conventional work models to remote working. And in doing so, they were forced to swiftly adjust their operating model and reinvent their delivery model; grapple with totally novel work-related challenges and practices; and experiment with new ways of working, taking risks which, only a few years ago, would have been unthinkable.

Given how successful that transition proved to be, there now lies a window of opportunity for organisations to fundamentally rethink and transform their approach to their people and workplace.

As a firm, we were already shifting to a hybrid model pre-pandemic and over the last 12 months we have opened four ‘smart o­ffices’ across the Middle East and Africa.

While most companies shifted to remote working during the peak of the pandemic, many have now reverted back to all office days – even if an employee’s physical presence is not required. Will office working remain the norm in the region for the near future?
The new world of work will involve different combinations of work from home/work from o­ffice/work from afar regimes, depending on industry, type of activity, corporate culture, network bandwidth, etc. But without doubt, there are many benefits to colleagues being physically present in the o­ffice – from better collaboration and teamwork, to quick conversations that drive results, to stronger comradeship and creating a sense of belonging, just to name a few.

We have also seen ‘Zoom fatigue’ take hold as many remote workers tire of constant meetings. How can that be better managed?
We can help to shape our organisational culture and advocate the benefits of ‘less screen time’ and ultimately a better work life balance. For example, we can influence and actively encourage Zoom-free days or afternoons, promote shorter meetings and enforce breaks. In all instances, as leaders, we will need to lead by example.

It is also important to share hints and tips with colleagues on best meeting practices and invest in ‘chat’ technology to reduce both the need for meetings and excessive emails.

Looking ahead, will we see younger employees value flexible working as a key driver for choosing a job/switching companies?
This will be important for not only for our younger colleagues, but for all colleagues. An organisation’s culture should empower and entrust its team to deliver and drive results, whether they are travelling, in a physical office or working remotely.

Do you see an increasing trend of people working remotely from international destinations? Or will that remain restricted to certain niche sectors?
There are definite geographically and demographical opportunities for organisations to expand their talent base beyond traditional sources. Remote working, to a degree, has removed any physical boundaries that previously limited access to talent pools across cities, countries and even continents. That being said, the ability to understand and act upon local market nuances and client needs means that the types of roles that can be performed at 100 per cent remote mode are going to be more limited.

Lastly, what will the workplace of the future look like?
The pandemic was a “call to action” for organisations to update and reset their future of work agendas, to be more relevant and inclusive in a post-pandemic world and create a re-imagined future of work for all.

What that future of work looks like depends on the organisation; it will definitely be more fluid, agile, involve greater employee choice. We believe in building a more people centric leadership culture, promoting colleague wellness and being more aware of and sensitive to mental wellbeing, empowering our colleagues to deliver in a hybrid environment, promoting diversity and enhancing the digital experience for both colleagues and clients.

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