For now, it looks like companies may go in for hybrid options, to keep employees happy. This poses a challenge for C-suite executives as they will have to find ways to navigate their teams through multiple situations and models.
How employees are looking at the changes
There is no doubt that several employees prefer working from home.
Lokesh Nigam, Co-founder and Director, Kognoz, says, “Recent data from Kognoz’s IMMERSE surveys, focusing on organisations in India and Southeast Asia, reveals the significant effect of ‘time autonomy’ on employees’ sense of purpose and alignment with their work. The surveys indicate that over 55% of employees in these regions report ‘time autonomy’ as a crucial benefit, suggesting that having control over when they work deepens their connection with their job roles and overall contribution. This alignment with organisational goals is essential in a hybrid work setting, where physical separation could otherwise impact an employee’s sense of belonging and purpose.”
The IMMERSE surveys demonstrate that employees empowered with the freedom to choose their tasks and the techniques to execute them are likely to be up to three times more productive than those without such autonomy. This dramatic increase in productivity underscores the importance of autonomy in fostering not only employee satisfaction but also efficiency and effectiveness in work outputs.
Given this situation, organisations are focusing on promoting autonomy and creating a collaborative atmosphere, rather than just reacting to change. This creates an environment where success, engagement and creativity coexist peacefully. The narrative presents resilience, flexibility and a future in which fostering a culture of cooperation among employees in remote and hybrid work settings is not only strategically necessary, but also essential to a flourishing and forward-thinking workplace, Nigam adds.
How leaders can respond to this evolving work situation
Manu Saigal, Director, General Staffing, Adecco India, says the work landscape in India would be diverse in 2024. Companies are tailoring approaches for specific roles and teams, with in-office days gaining traction for functions needing collaboration and real-time interaction. Remote options will still thrive for individual contributors and roles best suited to asynchronous work. “We expect increased focus on performance-based evaluations, technology for seamless virtual integration, and evolving company cultures adapting to this dynamic ecosystem. It won’t be just about location flexibility it will be about time flexibility too. Concerns for employee well-being and maintaining boundaries will be crucial considerations. Additionally, talent wars will intensify, with companies offering flexible models as key attraction points.”
More companies will invest in collaboration tools and remote-friendly infrastructure to bridge the physical gap, says Saigal.
He also expects a major change in corporate culture because of the gig economy. “The rise of the gig economy within larger companies may also blur traditional lines, as companies tap into flexible talent pools for specific projects. Ultimately, 2024 won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. It’ll be a constant experiment, a dynamic ecosystem where agility, adaptation, and prioritising individual needs will be the keys to success,” he adds.
Evolving leaders’ styles
Corporate leaders will have to learn to adjust to the new environment. Saigal says leaders will have to embrace asynchronous communication methods, proficiently utilising email, chat and document tools to facilitate seamless coordination across diverse time zones. Clarity and conciseness are paramount for effective communication, with bullet points serving as a valuable tool.
In her view, establishing a culture of over-communication is foundational, necessitating regular check-ins and transparent sharing of updates and decisions to cultivate trust and commitment. Inclusivity is a critical consideration, requiring the provision of necessary technology and training for all team members. Mindful scheduling of meetings, incorporating asynchronous options, is essential to accommodate diverse working arrangements. Micromanagement should be eschewed in favour of outcome-oriented leadership that highlights goals clearly, empowers individuals and tracks progress on the basis of results, not mere presence.
“Leaders are encouraged to lead by example, embracing flexibility, leveraging technology, and championing open communication as fundamental elements for successful collaboration in a distributed work environment. It is important to underscore that success is contingent upon connection and shared objectives, not physical proximity,” adds Saigal.