Top 5 Hybrid Work Trends for 2023
By Staples Canada
February 17, 2023
Wondering how today’s work landscape is evolving? Read on for 5 work trends that will shape the Canadian workplace and how you work in it, in 2023 and beyond.
Hybrid work will continue to define offices and how we work in 2023. As the recent Staples Canada-Angus Reid Future of Work (FOW) Report shows, 7 out of 10 respondents value flexibility with hybrid and remote work models. But how do we make it ideal for both employees and employers?
As Canada shifts from fully remote work to hybrid with in-office expectations, here are five trends that competitive workplaces should explore and employees should consider.
Hybrid Trend #1: Ergonomics take centre-stage.
Keeping teams happy and healthy will become an organizational priority in competitive staffing environments. According to the FOW Report, of 65% of respondents who work fully remote or hybrid, one quarter indicate an inadequate or poor workspace. Companies are recognizing that employees deserve better, and that this protects their bottom lines, too.
“Research has shown that employers with strong ergonomic programs (and as an extension, employees with proper workstation set-ups) are not only more comfortable and less likely to experience an injury, but they are also 25% more productive and less likely to make errors,” says Rachel Mitchell, Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist with ERGO Inc. and Staples Work From Anywhere Advisory Council expert. Another key company benefit: decreased employee turnover.
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Hybrid Trend #2: Bringing the flexibility of remote work to the office
After two-plus years of working relatively uninterrupted in remote settings, 50% of the FOW Report respondents are concerned that a return to office will increase interruptions and decrease productivity.
“We have a culture that invites interruption. Whether it's an in-person or electronic interruption, we haven't had enough organizations say: ‘Thou shall protect thinking time.’ More often we have somebody dictating an ‘I want you to respond to emails within an hour’ approach,’” says Clare Kumar, productivity expert, executive coach and Staples Work From Anywhere Advisory Council expert. This approach puts individuals under constant stress and danger of burnout, says Kumar.
Savvy managers will increasingly tell their reports to: “Design your day to get what you need done,” to provide their teams with the opportunities to be social and collaborative, or privately engaged, at the office, so it doesn’t feel like a downgrade from remote work.
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Hybrid Trend #3: Offices designed for collaboration and privacy.
One of the strongest selling points for a return to office is the facilitation of interaction and collaboration. Yet, for productivity, a variety of workspace options and environments is key.
Hot desks are a given as hybrid employees’ in-office time remains a fraction of pre-COVID work arrangements. But regular office goers gain real benefit from dedicated workstations, or at least priority access to their preferred shared desks, so they can store hard-copy folders and create a work routine, says Kumar. Expect more options as employers learn their teams’ hybrid preferences, as well as private spaces where individuals can hunker down for focus time.
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Hybrid Trend #4: Empowering employees with the tools they need to work well
Employee wellness has been a buzz-phrase since before COVID, but organizations will have to move “beyond lip service” to deliver, says Staples Work From Anywhere Advisory Council expert John Trougakos, Professor of Organizational Behaviour and HR Management at the University of Toronto.
This starts with equipping teams with ergonomic workstations and providing access to mental health resources so staff can get help around job stress, burnout and other concerns. It extends to promoting wellness days off and retaining the flexibility of remote work on days when staff need it. Finally, it includes a key work culture change, that of respecting “the idea of boundaries, and encouraging and helping employees set boundaries between work and home space, and work and home life,” says Trougakos.
Canadians want to disconnect from the office when they are not at the office, an idea supported by governments with “right to disconnect” laws protecting employees personal time, says Trougakos.
Make sure to build in time into your calendar that helps you stay focussed and engaged by providing a break. Use built-in Microsoft Teams tools like blocking off Focus Time, or the built in reminders to encourage you to get up from your desk and get outside.
Hybrid Trend #5: Finding ways to beat Zoom fatigue.
Beat Zoom fatigue by facilitating actively engaged meetings and training. “I’m not a fan of the one-directional broadcast [approach],” and meeting platform features, says Jan Keck, a facilitator, trainer and video creator who facilitated a virtual talk about Zoom best practices for Staples Studio.
Keck says making participants feel seen and heard is key to preventing team members from turning off their cameras to surf the web or catch up on email during e-meetings. If you’re a meeting leader, check in with your team regularly: “I try to engage people every five to 10 minutes, even if it’s just ‘Can you give me a thumb’s up if that makes sense?’ ” via Zoom’s annotations feature, says Keck.
Another feature to embrace is breakout rooms for brainstorming and other collaborations. “Breakout rooms make a large meeting feel super-intimate. They let you scale to groups of two to five, to help a group feel more connected,” says Keck. As hybrid teams bridge the kilometres, virtual collaboration can be used to help foster connections as colleagues start meeting IRL too.
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