Hybrid working will be the preferred way of working after the pandemic lifts across the globe, according to TetraPak’s Phil Read, SVP of HR and Bruce Burrows, SVP of finance.
The pair made the comments at the Virtual CFO Agenda on June 4, where they discussed how the coronavirus had impacted the nature of work.
“Going back to the office doesn’t mean going back in the way that people were going to the office before because if you’re going to maintain reasonable safety measures, it’s very likely that your office capacity will be reduced. And so, we estimate that we will be running 50-60 percent occupancy, meaning most people will spend some time working from home for the foreseeable future,” said Read.
“I am a believer in the new hybrid ways of working and it will be a hybrid on many different axes. It will be some time in the office some time at home. I just can’t imagine anyone would be 100 percent from home forever and I can’t imagine that anyone would be 100 percent in the office forever like we were before,” Burrows added.
Read and Burrows’ comments reflect a growing belief that remote working is here to stay. In May, social media giant Twitter told staff that they could work from home “forever” if they wanted, while Forbes reported a study which found productivity was up 47 percent.
Crucial to instigating this shift is the new perception around remote working, said Burrows.
“One of the things I’ve heard from so many people in our organisation is that before the spread of the coronavirus, there was always a perception that when people worked from home, they weren’t really working,” Burrows said.
“It was more relaxed from home for one day a week, it wasn’t something that was blindly accepted. I think in the last three months that’s changed dramatically because everybody is working from home, the companies are running, things are being done.”
Similarly, Read said that TetraPak had found some unexpected benefits to working from home. With all staff stuck in one location, there was no longer the need to coordinate travel schedules, meaning staff can visit more clients every day and product development is accelerated through virtual product development trials.
However, Read did caution against managers being proponents of remote working too quickly.
“It does of course depend on your home setup,” he said. “As schoolchildren were sent home, that has obviously affected some people’s ability to be productive all day.
“Sometimes senior management are more optimistic about how good it is working from home in their large houses compared to some of our employees around the world.”