By Emmanuel Asika
Alternative work models, better known as hybrid work or remote work, are fast becoming essential to every business’ survival and continuity post-COVID-19. The acceptance and sustainability of this model are corroborated by a Microsoft 2022 Work Trend Index Report, which found that the new work model is still gaining traction as hybrid employees, representing 51% of the workforce, are considering a switch to remote work, while 57% of remote employees are considering a switch to hybrid working models in the years ahead.
In Nigeria, the emergence of remote, hybrid, and virtual work models has now made them sustainable alternatives to the age-old in-office system. The trend is expected to gain more traction with the current economic realities occasioned by the removal of subsidies on fuel, as more and more employers and employees now see flexible models as the future of work, even though most businesses and lifestyles have returned to the pre-pandemic status quo.
According to a Gallup Survey in June 2022, 8 in 10 people are working hybrid or remotely, thus demonstrating the enormous pickup of this flexible workplace approach. This is further buttressed by FlexJobs.com’s Employee Engagement Report, which shows 48% of companies are retaining some form of remote work for their workforce. 26% of survey respondents also opined that their employer would follow a hybrid model, and 22% said they’d be allowed to work remotely when asked about their company’s post-pandemic workplace plans. So, while employees are keen on remote or hybrid work, institutions worldwide are now realizing that positive job output is not dependent on being physically present in the office.
This paradigm shift to new ways of working is again attested to by Africa: willingness to remote work by country 2020, published by Statista earlier this year. The study reveals that 74% of Nigeria’s working population who participated in the survey would work remotely for an employer with no physical presence in their country. Interestingly, the same goes for other employees across Africa, with Benin Republic at 82% and Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire each at 80%. In South Africa, 73% of the respondents were of the same opinion.
The public sector is not left out in this work shift, as states like Edo, Kwara, and Kaduna, in addition to providing interventions to cushion the biting effects of the hike in cost of living hinged on increasing petrol prices, have declared flexible work models of three and four working days in a week for staff. The implication here is business continuity. Simple! Regardless, this can only be made possible with good deployment and application of digital devices for seamless output.
At HP, this flexible work model typifies the way to work now. With a vision to create technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere, HP is deepening the flexible work concept for more optimized productivity. All that is needed on the part of employees to make it work is to find a balance between working offsite full-time while still maintaining and building relationships with customers, partners, teams, and ultimately, family. This is most significant, just as communication is important to keep relationships growing regardless of today’s realities, which are now virtual.
So, in essence, technology has a huge role to play in the way we work going forward. It’s now a Zoom or Teams world. With an HP laptop, Poly headphones, a portable bouquet of flowers, sticky notes, and a clean and modest-looking table—all performing sundry critical functions for a fit-for-purpose and tranquil workspace—you are up for a new normal of work productivity.
Important hybrid work tips
First, due to the high number of virtual meetings, it is vital to make sure your meetings are short, fruitful, and engaging. You must ensure you have an agenda that is simple and brief. Even more important, one must be attentive and meticulous if they’re to achieve their set objectives.
Secondly, hybrid workers also have to find ways to balance their home-office routines. For instance, my HP Elite Dragonfly is as much a companion to me in my home workspace, a traditional office space, as it is on my trips to partners or customers in the busy Lagos traffic. In my morning exercise routine, our Poly headphones seamlessly connect to my device and sync up with my favorite playlist, which also enables me to make and receive critical work calls as necessary. This way, I am able to work and take care of my body simultaneously, thus improving my mental well-being. In addition to this, it is equally important to go outdoors and take in the scenery, weather permitting, as this helps put you in the right frame of mind. This really helps compared to sitting at home all day.
Finally, find something that makes you happy or gets you inspired. For some, it is a picture frame of their kids, wife, husband, or family—a constant reminder of why we do what we do every day. For others, Asake’s ‘Lonely at the Top or a tune or two from Burnaboy’s or Wizkid’s eclectic collections will get their inspiration juices flowing. For some, it could be watching the sun rise every day to reset or refresh their mindset.
Whatever it is, the fact is that the future of work is hybrid, and it is here to stay. We just have to find the best way to make it work for organizations, both as employers and as employees.
Emmanuel Asika is Country Head, HP Nigeria.