We are pleased to have devised an optimal work regime, a hybrid model emerging from the remote working of the pandemic.

At the same time, we released research showing a widening gap between the expectations of employers and those of employees.

Those working from home are upbeat, saying they are more effective, while some managers back in the office fear disconnection, citing managing staff as the single largest challenge.

Jack Watts, global CEO of Bastion Collective, says his 250 staff across Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles will be working from home two or three days a week, and then coming into the office for the other days and at the same time as other members of their teams.

“It’s important to have those people in the hub at the same time so they can maintain their relationships with colleagues, and work collaboratively together,” he says.

“As a communications agency, there are always a lot of challenges about conducting a creative process remotely.

“We’ve found it’s much better to have people in a room together, writing on a whiteboard, putting up ideas, tearing them down and workshopping them together, in person.”

Workplaces are preparing for a widescale adoption of a hybrid working model in a move that could offer more autonomy and flexibility, yet is risky if not implemented properly.

Watts spoke after releasing research, Adapting to the New Normal: Hybrid Working 2021, by Pitcher Partners Melbourne, Bastion Reputation Management and Bastion Insights.

The results reveal a disconnect between employer and employee expectations of hybrid working arrangements, with that gap likely to grow as more transition to a COVID-normal environment.

The survey of more than 600 employees and 300 employers across Australia by Bastion Insights found that while four-out-of-five employers said that their return to office plans were based on discussions with staff, only half of employees surveyed said they had been consulted by their managers.

Key findings:

  • A disconnect between employer and employee expectations of hybrid working arrangements, with that gap likely to grow as more workplaces transition to a COVID-normal environment and the uncertainty of responding to changing conditions and restrictions.
  • Most employees reported that they felt that a hybrid working model would positively impact productivity as well as their ability to perform their jobs.
  • In contrast, employers identified managing staff as the single largest challenge of a hybrid working model.
  • One in four employers did not have a return to office plan, with smaller organisations less likely to have such a plan in place.
  • It is critical for organisations to get their communications with staff right to reduce the potential for a dilution of team culture, connection and engagement levels.
  • Key risks include the lack of attention given to cyber security training and performance management in hybrid working models.
  • It is critical organisations give proper consideration to these issues and direct their new year planning to ensure a smooth transition to a future hybrid work model.