Of Friyays and Monday Blues: Workers shape the new hybrid work model

Swap your pajamas for professional attire… at least a few days a week. While remote was considered the future of work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the scale seems to be tilting towards hybrid work.
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The “new normal” for office-goers, wrought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, seems a bit disorderly and ambiguous with clear trends yet to emerge. 

Companies, both large and small, are still figuring out their work and office policies with the different variations of remote and hybrid work arrangements cropping up.

According to trends captured by WorkInSync, a Bengaluru-based global hybrid solutions provider, it seems like the hybrid work mode is here to stay. When the first lockdown happened in early 2020, most companies and people hypothesised that remote work would prevail but about 30 months later, the scale seems to be tilting towards hybrid mode of work.

WorkInSync’s recent ‘Hybrid Work Trends Report’, based on the users’ usage of the firm’s tech solutions, points to interesting nuggets that show people’s preferences in the hybrid work set up and the way companies are navigating uncharted territories to plan flexible arrangements.

Image: Daisy Mahadevan

There are two sets of data that we’d be looking at: one, based on the 300,000 monthly active users of WorkInSync’s mobility solutions (transportation to office and back) before and during the pandemic in India and two, the 51,000 monthly active users of the company’s hybrid solutions in 19 countries including the US, Canada, India, France and Australia in June 2022. 

The percentage of people who returned to office as a percentage of pre-COVID levels peaked at 59 in June 2022, with April 2020 recording the lowest at 3% in the 27-month period (between April 2020-June 2022). Interestingly, before both the second and third waves of the pandemic, the numbers gradually increased and dipped again before gaining traction. 

Image: Daisy Mahadevan

For instance, the percentage of people who returned to office in April 2020 was 3%, which gradually increased 17% in March 2021 (start of the second wave) and dipped to 7% in May 2021 (end of the second wave). Similarly, this increased to 26% in December 2021, which marked the beginning of the third wave only to fall to 16% in February 2022 at the end of the third wave. 

In India, the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector including companies such as JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank had the highest percentage of people going to office (84%) in June 2022 when compared to the number of monthly active users in March 2022. This was followed by the IT/ITeS sector (including companies such as IBM and Infosys) at 43% and the IT Services industry (including companies such as Google, Meta and Microsoft) at 35%. 

In terms of the city-based trends, Mumbai topped the charts with the highest percentage of employees going to office (100%) in June 2022. This calculation is based on the monthly active users of the firm’s platform as a percentage of the pre-pandemic active users in March 2020. In the National Capital Region (NCR), the number stood at 81% followed by Bengaluru (59%), Pune (52%), Hyderabad (50%) and Chennai (33%). 

To be clear, the employees aren’t going to the office every day. Workers went to the office around eight days a month on an average globally in June 2022. A majority of the employees (43%) worked out of their offices anywhere between 1 to 5 days while a little less than a third (31%) went to the office between 6-10 days a month. One out of every four employees (26%) travelled to the office more than 11 days a month last month. 

This is based on the number of monthly active users of WorkInSync’s hybrid work solutions in June 2022.

Interestingly, Indian employees like to walk into their offices between 11 am and 1 pm whereas folks in other countries prefer going to work between 7 and 10 am, according to the global June data. However, among the Indian employees, about a third like to check-in to their offices early—between 6 and 9 am. In that, a higher percentage of male employees (35%) liked to go to their offices in the three-hour morning slot compared to 32% of female employees in India.

“In the pre-COVID era, there was a lot of variability in terms of the time people came into work. In the post-COVID era, people are generally coming in at the same time and leaving at the same time,” says Deepesh Agarwal, Co-founder and CEO of WorkInSync. 

“The usage of meeting rooms is increasing now. You can see more people booking meeting rooms than sitting at their desks now,” adds Deepesh, implying that people seem to be going to offices more for collaborative meetings than doing deep work at their desks. 

Using WorkInSync’s hybrid solutions, one can book their desks (preferably next to the folks they want to discuss things with), meeting rooms and parking slots as not all employees go to offices on the same day.  

“There are instances of companies that have increased their workforce in the last 2-3 years but have not taken up additional real estate space going by the hybrid work trends. The sharing of resources and the usage of our app gives the flexibility for offices to convert their spaces to co-working facilities. About 1,000 people can be accommodated in a 500-seater office,” explains Deepesh.

The entrepreneur also added that companies are analysing their hybrid work trends’ data and are likely to redesign their workspaces once they gain the confidence that the office-overhauling exercise will help serve their purposes. He said companies are more likely to do with a lesser percentage of desks than pre-COVID times and are likely to increase the proportion of collaborative spaces and meeting rooms.

Globally, employees preferred to travel to work on Wednesdays (25%), Thursdays (23%) and Tuesdays (20%)—in that order in June 2022. No prizes for guessing that folks preferred to go to office the least on Fridays (13%) with Monday blues faring slightly better at 16%.

Based on the monthly active users of the company’s hybrid work solutions in 19 countries, employees spent an average of nine hours at their offices with those working for startups (9.5 hours) spending 30 minutes more than those employed in enterprises (nine hours).

Also, female employees spent an additional half an hour at their workplaces compared to their male colleagues in June 2022.

(This story was updated with a correction in an image)

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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