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Notes from the field on hybrid working

COVID-19 has brought many challenges to the workplace and forced a new rhythm upon team dynamics. Over the last year, employees learned to appreciate the minimal business attire and the short commute to their home offices. But now, while some are flocking to the nearest subway station from their cramped NYC apartments, others are less eager to join the in-person workplace as companies are transitioning to a hybrid system.

On the one hand, a hybrid workplace allows for more flexibility in our daily routine — employees can keep their slow mornings and/or their early escapes from the office to beat traffic or pick up their kids. But on another, it’s presenting some new challenges that have yet to materialize fully.

Some of our US team share their perspectives, shown below. We have also asked friends of Q5ers located throughout the country to comment on their own experiences.
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Julia Freund, Q5
I began working at Q5 when everything was entirely remote. It made onboarding and interacting with other Q5ers more difficult. Instead of going into the office and asking questions and befriending others over coffee or lunch, we had to schedule meetings. So, it has been nice to return to the office and get to know my co-workers.

After being away for so long, returning to an office was interesting. I was constantly on calls. Having staked meetings in the office makes it difficult to interact with people. It made me realize I prefer hybrid work because it allows me to have a better work-life balance. I like walking my dog throughout the workday, not having to commute, and using the time I would typically be spending commuting to exercise. If I am on the phone all day, it makes more sense for me to stay home rather than go into the office. However, I enjoy going into the office a couple of days a week because it helps break up my week, allows me to work from a location other than my apartment, and provides social interaction.

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Ged Brannan, Q5
It’s early days – just a few weeks in – and my perspective on ‘being in the office’ has certainly shifted since before the pandemic. Previously, while not being someone that placed any value on presenteeism, I did think that the best way to get things done was by being together – I’ve come from a traditional school of working. For me there is something qualitatively different about the way that I process information when it is written down on paper or a whiteboard and it can by physically manipulated.

Nonetheless, during lockdown I did find myself being much more productive on certain tasks than if I’d done those in an office – I managed to get into the zone of work relatively easily. I also greatly valued the ability to be able to switch away from work for a break without it disrupting my day significantly – it’s easy to jump on an exercise bike for 45 minutes when it is in the same room that you are working in.

I’m fascinated by the social experiment that has been thrust upon us from a working perspective by the pandemic. I think that we will be able to mix things up for ourselves more and find individual and collective patterns of working that work better for us all. I don’t pretend that it will be easy – there will be as many different perspectives on this as there are people who work.

Like most changes, it will take us time to work through what works well and not so well.  It will require patience and understanding from us all. These changes give us the opportunity to respect and embrace a diversity of working styles and personalities – whilst balancing this with the need to perform strongly as teams and organizations.

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Verbatim From Friends of U.S. Q5ers: How has transitioning to a hybrid environment affected you?

Saria, 20, Finance: “I think one thing I could say about my co-workers being hybrid is that sometimes. as an intern, I lack a bit of guidance because being remote, they take longer to answer.”

Jamie, 44, Technology: “The transition to working remotely was beneficial for me as I lead a global team. It allowed me flexibility to connect over VC with 3 different time zones. In the beginning there were a couple of challenges; managing my scheduling and ensuring breaks between meetings, making sure my team felt connected and having fun together in a virtual environment, and not being able to meet new employees in person. Overall, despite the challenges this shift in the way we work has opened up opportunities to hire talent all over the world.”

Veronica, 22, Law: “I started in the office, so transitioning to remote took a little bit to get used to. But have crazy hours, so it’s nice being so close to my bed. In my first 21 days of the job, I didn’t get a chance to take care of myself, so now, with hybrid working, I have my life back, a good work-life balance, and save so much money. I think every company should stay hybrid.”