The Future of Work: Hybrid Model and the Recent Trends in IT Industry

The latest Hybrid Work Study conducted by Angus Reid for Cisco Canada revealed that Canadian employees have firmly embraced the concept of hybrid work. Flexibility in work arrangements is no longer seen as just a bonus; it's now an expected norm for employees. According to the survey, 23% of employees consider flexible work arrangements to be a top priority when selecting an employer, ranking only second to a higher salary (34%). This preference for flexibility even surpasses considerations like work/life balance, benefits, purpose, and office perks.

The survey indicated that a significant 81% of Canadian employees believe that flexible work policies play a crucial role in their decision to either stay in or leave a job. Moreover, a growing number of employees (79%) reported that hybrid work has had a positive impact on their work-life balance.

Embracing the Evolution of Hybrid Work

In an interview with our Team Lead – Technology Recruitment, Michael Simpson, he shared his insights on the recent trends in hybrid work environments from client and job seeker perspectives. The hybrid model is gaining popularity due to its ability to accommodate remote work preferences and the benefits of in-person collaboration. He believes while some industries may lean towards full-time in-office or remote setups, in Canada, the hybrid model is likely to become the standard for most organizations, providing the flexibility and adaptability needed to meet the changing demands of the workforce.

What has been the prevailing approach for most of our clients this year, and how have they implemented it regarding office attendance?

It's clear that this year, the hybrid model has been the prevailing approach for most of our clients. Many have implemented a hybrid model, where employees must be in the office for a certain number of days per week, usually 1-3 days. Some clients, especially in specific industries like manufacturing or warehousing, have chosen to have their employees return to the office full-time.

The desire to create equality across the organization has led some companies to adopt a hybrid model while others remain remote. Some companies have implemented a more flexible approach, allowing individual teams or consultants to decide on the best arrangement based on their needs.

When it comes to candidates, their preferences vary widely. Technical roles, such as development positions, often see a strong preference for remote work. Consultants in these roles can effectively communicate and collaborate through platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack, making remote work highly efficient. On the other hand, roles that rely heavily on soft skills and in-person interaction, such as project management and business analysis, tend to be more accommodating towards a return to the office. Being in front of people is often crucial to creating value in such roles.

What are the typical working hours for technology roles in a hybrid/remote setting, and how does flexibility play a role in different time zones?

Typically, technology roles follow a 37.5- or 40-hour work week schedule, with minimal weekend work, unless there’s a need for deployments or go-live events. This has been the norm even before the rise of hybrid/remote work. Generally, the hybrid consultants require to be available during core business hours for key meetings and team collaboration and the remaining hours of their workday being flexible around the start of their day or end of their day.

Some clients may have a stricter daily schedule, while others offer a degree of flexibility. For instance, when consultants are working in different time zones more often, they are expected to align with the clients’ time zones and working hours and adjust their schedules. Overall, flexibility is often available for remote technology roles as long as consultants fulfil their work commitments during core business hours and ensure effective collaboration with the team.

How do clients measure productivity for consultants or employees in a hybrid/remote work environment, and what is the primary focus when evaluating performance?

The key metric for measuring productivity is based on successful project delivery. Whether someone is working remotely or in-office, it truly matters whether consultants meet their deliverables and finish the work. Most clients don't differentiate between remote and in-office work when it comes to measuring performance. The focus is on the outcomes and results rather than on the location from which the work is being performed. While there might have been a few isolated cases where remote work became an issue, in general, the success of the consultant or employee is tied to their ability to complete the assigned tasks and projects.

How does proximity bias impact the evaluation and opportunities for consultants in the contracting space?

Proximity bias can be a factor in evaluating and promoting full-time employees within a company. It might influence decisions regarding promotions, climbing the career ladder, or seniority based on the physical presence and interactions with management and colleagues. However, proximity bias may not play a significant role in the contracting space. As a consultant, you are typically brought in to deliver specific initiatives or projects, and your success is often measured based on the outcomes and results of your work. Contracting allows for a more focused and outcome-driven assessment, reducing the influence of proximity bias that might be more prevalent in traditional full-time employment. However, it's worth noting that the dynamics can vary depending on the specific company culture and the level of transparency within the organization.

What are the general expectations regarding equipment ownership and expenses in the contracting world?

Most of our clients provide the necessary equipment for consultants. There are some exceptions where the client prefers the consultant to use their computer, but in such cases, the client grants them access to tools and software needed for their day-to-day tasks. Generally, consultants are not responsible for licensing or other related expenses; the clients will handle those expenses.

How do organizations approach out-of-office work in terms of security measures and restrictions?

For hybrid and remote roles, cybersecurity can present certain challenges. Companies may have different rules and policies in place. Some candidates might need to log into a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when working remotely to ensure a secure connection. The level of security measures can vary, with financial organizations often having stricter policies due to the sensitive nature of their data. When it comes to remote work, companies differ in their approach. While some organizations allow remote work from overseas with the necessary security measures, others might not take the risk and require consultants to work from specific locations only. Each case is unique and is determined by the company's cybersecurity protocols and risk assessment.

What is the future of work expected to look like, particularly in the IT industry, and why is the hybrid model gaining popularity?

It's evident from various conversations and observations that the future of work is likely to include a combination of remote and in-office work, known as the hybrid model. Especially in the IT industry, where technology enables seamless remote connections, it's increasingly challenging to envision a return to full-time in-office work for many organizations. Over the past year, companies have gradually transitioned from fully remote to hybrid models. For instance, some financial sector organizations started with one day a week back in the office, and now they are incrementally increasing it to three days per week. This pattern of slowly bringing employees back into the office may continue in various industries.

One of the key strengths of the hybrid model is its adaptability. It accommodates different work styles and preferences. Employees who thrive in a remote setting can do so, while those who prefer more in-office time can still have that option. Many organizations are open to employees doing more than the minimum hybrid requirement, allowing for more in-office work if that aligns with their needs.

Overall, the hybrid model has been successful for most organizations that have adopted it. It provides a harmonious solution that meets the needs of both employees and the company, offering a positive and flexible work experience for most individuals involved. While there may be some cases where the hybrid model isn't a perfect fit, for the majority, it has proven to be a successful and adaptable approach to the future of work.


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