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Nothing's settled yet: The agency hybrid working conundrum

At four years and counting since we went into the first Covid lockdown here in the UK, the world continues to run an epic post-pandemic workplace experiment as businesses of every shape and size strive to optimise working patterns.

This was highlighted by two stories in the FT this week. The first covered research at which randomly selected workers to adhere to different working models . The people in hybrid mode reported "higher job satisfaction" and were less likely to quit, "especially if they were non-managers, female, or had long commutes”. In the second, Atom Bank CEO Mark Mullen said that implementing a four-day week had turned out to be “considerably less challenging” than navigating the rise of remote working.

Meanwhile, closer to home, it’s really interesting to see how each agency, represented in our first PRmoment Leaders cohort, is currently embracing different approaches to the hybrid working question.

One of our agencies is fully remote and always has been. Others compulsorily have their people in the office three days a week, some do the same but for two days. Some stipulate what days, and some leave that to individual choice.

The common issue is how to align those who worked at the agencies pre-Covid and know what that feels like, especially culturally, with those who don’t have that same muscle memory. It’s stating the obvious to point out there are no easy answers to resolving this experience mismatch in the new hybrid world but, resolve it we all must.

In fact, I wonder if there’s an emerging opening for a new agency that leans in proudly to a proposition based on five days in the office. One that sells itself to employees and clients as a business version of an elite sports team, focused on achieving success in real life, unmediated by screens. Locate this new agency within a cool 15 minute city setting and watch it take off I’d say!

I know that even raising such an option makes me sound like a typical CEO keen to put the genie back in the bottle to get everyone back in the office no matter what. The truth is I’m open to all possibilities and am genuinely excited that we have such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink working life.

And as part of that rethink, perhaps atypical CEO Mark Mullen is really onto something with his embrace of the four-day working week as a quid pro quo alternative path for our businesses and people. We are after all simply never going back to the pre-Covid world and everyone is striving for a new optimal work-life balance.

So rather than staying with 5:2, is the future 4:3?

Written by

Will Hart, CEO of PRmoment Leaders

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