The hybrid work puzzle: PR pros want flexible WFH options as well as in person meetings

Recent figures by Microsoft Work Trends Index illustrate the hybrid work paradox in India, nearly three-fourths (74%) of Indian employees say they want more flexible remote work options, while at the same time, 73% of them are also craving more in-person time with their teams. 

As per the Index, "The data is clear: extreme flexibility and hybrid work will define the post-pandemic workplace."

What do India's PR professional feel about hybrid work? Does the paradox reflect among communicators as well? PRmoment India reports.

WFH better option

Saikat Pyne, manager - communications at Times Internet is on the side of WFH and flexibility, "I’d expect flexible work hours from future employers, and it's among the top asks for colleagues in my social circle. White-collar workers are paid for their expertise, not merely their time. Our progress is in better time management, maximising our productivity, and avoiding boxing ourselves into strict daily routines."

Pyne adds,"The WFH lifestyle is all about flexibility, nobody quite cares about your 15-minute mid-day Yoga sessions, early lunches or shower schedule, as long as you get the work done on time."
Flexibility is big ask for Gen X

Vicky Jain, founder, of talent technology firm, uKnowva, believes there are benefits for firms as well in being flexible, "Flexible working arrangement benefits organisations in many ways: it enhances employee morale, boosts productivity and creates a better work/life balance. Employees with flexible working schedules also don't have to face the hassle of commuting to the office which saves a lot of expenses. 

The flexible working trend was on the upswing before the pandemic, but it’s become even more commonplace, meaning that job seekers are much likelier to choose the job that offers flexible schedules over the one that doesn’t."

WFH, WFA or Hybrid?

Atree prefers hybrid working

Atree Kundu, manager - PR & communications, Unitus Ventures, says,"Being a social person, I always enjoyed peer learning and fun at workplaces. When I joined a new job at the peak of the pandemic 1st wave, this factor was missing. I met my colleagues for the 1st time in person after 7 months. I realized that I had forgotten how to be around people and as I started going once a week, the 2nd wave hit, and six months later, we have started coming to the office following a hybrid model. This definitely balances work-life better for me."

Office revives Neha

Neha Phale, Head of Public Affairs, Huhtamaki India Ltd. supports the hybrid workmodel, even as she concurs that flexibility of work timings matters to her, "I prefer working from office as it helps pull out of the comfort zone, focus better and it also helps in setting up a routine and cut-off time. Furthermore, meeting and interacting with colleagues in office uplifts moods, and brings in new energy each day to deliver tough mandates. Having said that, at present it’s the hybrid model that is working better  for me to manage the present situation with online schooling, and commute restrictions."

Training online is a challenge

Neena Biswal, head of South, CommsCredible shares that at her firm, which was born in the middle of Covid, WFA or work from anywhere is the rule till 2022. She does admit that, "The virtual workplace has its own benefits but it's quite challenging at the same time, especially when we intend to train younger team members. So far, we have invested in hiring senior resources, however as we expand, we see a clear challenge in terms of how the training can take place for younger people in a virtual environment, as the senior team is busy meeting their own work goals. That's where we believe a hybrid model eventually will be the best way to go."

Whether we like it or not, hybrid workplaces and flexibility is what the employee is searching for, this is specifically true of younger professionals.

Jain explains saying, "The young employees of Gen Z are being pulled in 2 different directions. On one hand, they are the generation that's most aware of the latest digital tools and adept at communication via different digital platforms therefore, working remotely naturally appeals to them. However, on the other hand they also feel that the pandemic has caused them to miss out on career advancement opportunities as a result of not being present in the office. Thus, eager to land squarely they're the ones most eager to work in a hybrid working model. 

Also, candidates value their work from home experience — in particular, for their home environment’s ability to support focus work, for improvements to well-being and work-life balance."