Companies, employees adapt to new normal of hybrid work
Many firms are now asking their staff to come to the office only a few days a week.
NEW YORK: Working from home might have been the norm at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but with the loosening of restrictions and the popularity of hybrid work, companies and their workers will need to adapt yet again.
Many firms in New York are now asking their staff to only come to the office a few days a week.
However, analysts said hybrid work brings fresh challenges.
“There’s a lot of learning going on, that’s the good news,” said entrepreneurship and management professor Ari Ginsberg of NYU’s Stern School of Business. “But it’s going to take some time.
“There’s going to be some discussions about how we do this. Some of those things aren’t going to work, others will.”
POPULARITY OF HYBRID WORK
Nearly a year ago, less than 40 percent of New York office workers had returned to their workplace.
However, data suggests that the figure is slowly creeping up.
According to a survey by non-profit organisation Partnership for New York City, roughly half of office workers are back at their desks on an average weekday. But less than 10 percent of people are back in the office full-time.
Tech companies are also adjusting to the new changes.
Video conferencing company Zoom became a household name when COVID-19 struck, forcing people around the world to stay home and connect virtually.
During the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, the firm saw paying user numbers tripling and it had more than 300 million daily active users.
Since then, Zoom’s shares have fallen about 90 per cent, as it faces increased competition. It also has to contend with a workforce returning to offices and is less reliant on its product.
But the company said it is adapting to the growing trend of hybrid working.
Mr Abe Smith, head of International at Zoom Video Communications, said: “As people continue to have demands of how they communicate, the ways they want to communicate, the inclusion they need and require in their platform, the intelligence built into the system itself, Zoom is going to continue to respond and it’s a huge market.”
The battle for market share in this space is expected to be fierce, said observers.
IS HYBRID WORK HERE TO STAY?
Meanwhile, many businesses are looking for answers if hybrid work is here to stay.
Mr Keith Snyder, senior equity analyst at CFRA Research, said: “How do we make everybody happy, how do we conduct business as usual without losing any productivity, and we don't miss timelines because of hybrid work?
“And so what enterprises have been struggling with for the past 12 months is how do we cater to these employees.”
Observers said the strength of the labour market could have a bearing on whether some employees return to the office.
Increased job competition could weaken the bargaining position for those looking to work remotely, they added.
However, with COVID-19 and flu cases rising in New York again this winter, the return to offices for many still remains up in the air.
For now, the pandemic’s lingering impact is still felt by some businesses in Manhattan.
One 6th Avenue deli, Toast, said tourists numbers are back to pre-COVID levels. But it estimated that there are around 30 to 40 per cent fewer office workers coming in.
Toast manager Sun Yong Lee said: “It hurts my profits for the business. I’m making less margins than before.”