Our relationship to work is evolving, and a new model of flexibility seems to be the next step in our industry. However, the challenges that bring, as well as the human side of the story, need to be at the forefront.
By Scio Team
Untangling how deeply our life changed during the Covid-19 pandemic will take a long time, and while we are still dealing with much of its aftermath, the process of planning the future doesn’t stop, even if we aren’t quite sure of what’s next for the industry.
Because, undoubtedly, one of the deepest impacts was in the way we worked; our entire model of collaboration was based around in-person contact, to such a degree that a world without face-to-face interactions was unimaginable. After all, what happens when a member of an organization doesn’t have true contact with other people?
Every industry since 2020 has had to grapple with that question daily, to the point that the idea of “work” may look completely different from now on. And even if we understood, from a technical standpoint, that working remotely all the time is 100% possible, the human side of it had a cost.
“The pandemic didn’t erase the need for human connection, and I think some kind of rebound is due to happen”, says Luis Aburto, CEO, and Co-Founder of Scio, about the future of work in the software industry. “We experimented with the freedom of a full-time remote position, but when every interaction is digitally mediated, you inevitably feel something is missing.”
And this missing element is going to shape a lot of the future of the industry, as the biggest challenge of collaborating remotely, be it from home or another country, will be managing remotely the cohesion between the members of a team, an issue that looms over every workplace strategy rising from the pandemic.
The best of both worlds
A solution, however, might be here: the “hybrid” model of working, a mix of in-person presence and home office work that seems to strike the balance between the needs of the job and the preference of an individual.
“Although right now full remote work is the preferred model for many people in the tech industry, I believe that things are going to shift soon, as more of us start feeling the weight of the isolation that it builds up. After all, work can be more than just the means to make a living, it can also allow you to be part of something together, a community”, continues Luis Aburto. “The real challenge of transitioning to an effective hybrid model will be to promote and maintain this feeling of community and belonging.”
After all, the effect of prolonged isolation in the workplace has been well documented since the pandemic began in 2020. Although remote work did a lot to keep us safe, it wasn’t a shift without downsides: the lack of structure, the blurred lines between the personal and professional life, and the stressful fluctuations in productivity (be it underperforming due to distractions, or overperforming due to a lack of feedback) showed us that in-person collaboration was full of hidden benefits that only became clear when taken from us.
“Being physically at the same place creates opportunities to develop your skills, get ideas about where to push your career path, and discover what you like professionally. And even in casual encounters, where personal rapport can develop, you inevitably feel part of a group because people always need deeper human connections”, continues Luis. “At home, even if you go to a Starbucks, you don’t have any links with your coworkers, which is isolating.”
With this in mind, and adding all the benefits that remote work has for a business, like reduced operational costs, improved retention rate, and a bigger talent pool to draw from, the compromise of hybrid work seems to be the best solution. But what are the challenges it brings?
The challenge of hybrid models
The numbers provided by the Future of Work survey, as reported by Forbes paint a serious picture. Even if a hybrid model of work becomes the new normal, many issues need to be solved to implement it successfully. For example, according to the article, “the vast majority of businesses lack a detailed hybrid work strategy: 72% lack a detailed strategy and 76% don’t have the right key performance indicators (KPIs) to support hybrid working models.”
This is to say, that the leadership and management of any organization looking to implement this model need a clear strategy to build a culture remotely, be it through technology or the implementation of special measures. Helena Matamoros, Human Capital Manager at Scio, points out the strategy we have been implementing during the pandemic to keep our culture intact, making sure every new collaborator feels at home from day 1.
“We start with a Welcome Kit to make them feel part of Scio, and then we ensure they have everything they need to do their jobs comfortably. Beyond that, when our hybrid work model starts (for now, we are still 100% remote), we want to ensure that every leisure activity we do, like our Game Nights, can accommodate both face-to-face and remote collaborators.”
These activities have two purposes: one, allow new collaborators the opportunity to meet their coworkers and teammates, integrating them more easily at Scio, and two, give them the chance to play, share, and generally mingle about outside of a project, which is also why we encourage our Project Leader to organize their own activities, forming a better relationship in the team.
These are some of the measures we have implemented successfully at Scio, even if the real test of hybrid work is about to begin. However, as we already have a home office policy before the pandemic (when many of our collaborators could choose a day of the week to work away from the office), and we have employed talent from all over LATAM, we know that this challenge is not insurmountable.
Keeping the human connection going will be key. Even if we no longer want to be beholden to an office 40 hours a week or more without any flexibility, our relationship with work is changing, and as a society, it’s good we are experimenting with different ways to get things done. And it seems likely that the lion’s share of people in our industry will prefer the option to work from home for two or three days, and go to the office the rest of the week to not leave behind this source of connection.
“A lot of people tie professional relationships with negative feelings, thanks to overly-demanding leaderships that only know how to push, so we try to create a positive environment at Scio, aiming for the kind of positive experiences that enrich everyone equally, making everyone feel appreciated, heard and with the chance to grow”, states Luis Aburto, emphasizing that a good environment will be critical.
“Otherwise, the most valuable people are bound to find somewhere else to satisfy their professional and human needs, and if your organization doesn’t encourage different approaches, be it connection, flexibility, or culture to call their own, these people are bound to find a better opportunity elsewhere, and then you, as a business, is going to be left behind in obscurity.”
The Key Takeaways
The future of work is a hybrid model where people are able to work remotely. This trend is only going to become more permanent as time goes on, so companies would be wise to accept it and even implement it themselves. However, there are many challenges that come with this new way of working, the biggest one being culture. How can you make sure your organizational cohesion doesn’t suffer? That’s still an unanswered question, but it’s one that we should all start thinking about. What do you think of the hybrid work model? Let us know in the comments!