In the past 12 months, businesses have been managing their shifts to hybrid work environments. This, and the initial remote work shift before it, writes Brian Kropp, has shaken up the workplace and we will start to witness the true long-term impact in 2022.  

At the same time, the uncertainty and variability of recent times will continue, as COVID concerns, Government legislation and financial hardship test the resolve of organisations. For these reasons, it will be even more important for companies to lay the framework for a successful hybrid work future.  

A more volatile job market 

One of the most significant features of the hybrid work era will be a permanent increase in employee turnover. We can already see this trend taking shape – our research last year showed that one in three UK workers were considering at least two other job offers simultaneously. 

Many have blamed this on pent-up demand from the pandemic however there is more at play here.  In work becoming more remote, physical location has become less of a barrier for employees in the job decision making process and suddenly there is a far greater range of opportunities available.  

Meanwhile, in hybrid environments, leaders are finding it much more difficult to nurture one of the critical ingredients in employee loyalty: social connections. This year, businesses need to invest more in recruiting, evolve their employee value proposition and find innovative ways to create a positive culture. 


DE&I difficulties   

Another impact of pandemic mitigation strategies is that Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives have suffered. In some cases, these programmes have been deprioritised in the face of chaos elsewhere and in others, businesses have failed to adapt them for hybrid work.  

For example, our research has found that managers wrongly perceive office workers to be higher performing and are more likely to reward these individuals with promotions and pay rises. This unfairly impacts female employees who we’ve found are most likely to work remotely.   

Meanwhile, Covid has disproportionately affected communities of colour, as these groups have been found less likely to have living situations suitable for the demands of remote work. Organisations have failed to anticipate and tackle these issues and without proper invention, gender wage gaps will widen and diversity in leadership will weaken. 

New organisational design structures  

Hybrid work will also bring changes in traditional design structures that have underpinned organisations for decades, one of those being the 5-day 9-5 working week which is looking massively outdated in modern times.  

Companies will use the continued uncertainty to experiment with new approaches to work, and this will include 4-day systems and reduced core working hours with radical flexibility around them. The results will influence universal business policies from 2023 and beyond.   

Leaders will also look at accelerating the deployment of AI and automation tools to create much needed efficiencies and counteract economic and supply chain challenges. This will involve adapting organisational structures and roles to work seamlessly with the technology; changes that inspire new ideas and philosophies at the heart of business.  

So, what’s next for 2022?  

One certainty for businesses this year is that hybrid working is here to stay. Most leaders have done well to make hybrid work functional, but in 2022 they need to understand what it means for different parts of their organisation – whether its recruitment or underrepresented talent groups – and how they can adapt. 

With this will come opportunities to steal a significant competitive advantage in the war for talent. It will be a year of transition for workplaces, and it will be fascinating to see the results.  


Brian Kropp, Chief of HR Research at Gartner