Hybrid working is a concept on the agenda of every industry trend today, as the digitalisation of business is accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the three-year pandemic, almost every workplace needed to maximise and transcend obstacles and innovations to ease into working from home or adopt hybrid solutions.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, PWC senior associate advisor on People and Business transformation, Andreas Papadopoulos, said the pandemic, especially its early era with lockdowns, eliminated hesitation in adopting the necessary digital solutions and technology.
“We have all witnessed globally how the rapid shift to digitally-enabled solutions became the only way in our daily lives.
“All the paper transactions taken from in-person interactions all of a sudden became digital receipts via a virtual meeting,” said Papadopoulos.
As he argued, COVID has clarified that these solutions were no longer a privilege but a win-or-lose situation for businesses.
When consumers turn to digital channels, organisations have no option but to transform accordingly.
Papadopoulos said that digitalisation has opened up options and possibilities in how we work, both from an employee and employer perspective.
Employees get to move away from traditional 9-5 must-office mandates to flexible working hours remotely, based on individual needs.
From an employer’s perspective, the necessary skills and people to be brought in have no longer geographical boundaries, and businesses can also throw the “Work from anywhere you want” leverage on the table to attract the best talent.
“Although we still have a long way to go, Cyprus is onboarded in the future of work journey”.
He noted that moving towards a hybrid working environment is being made beyond the private sector.
“We at PwC are currently supporting the Public Administration, and Personnel Department in their efforts to introduce and implement flexible working practises for the public sector, which is undoubtedly an initiative that will positively impact how people work and improve the lives of thousands”.
He did acknowledge that introducing a hybrid working environment in the private and public sectors is not without its challenges.
Papadopoulos explained that one of the biggest challenges faced by Cypriot businesses, and globally, is the availability of skilled labour.
“Cyprus is not operating in a vacuum; hence we are facing to a degree the same challenges regarding the availability of necessary skills to transform our businesses and workspaces as the rest of the world.
“However, we aspire to be a technological hub and have the fundamentals to achieve this.
“Our biggest challenge in preparing our people for the future and equipping them with the necessary skills is probably the need to bring even closer all the relevant stakeholders that can make this happen, to create a thriving ecosystem”.
Papadopoulos believes that redesigning the workplace could have other benefits for businesses in the era of hiking operational costs.
“Shortage of skills is a fact, as well as constrained supply chains, and simply focusing on changing prices won’t do the trick.
“Businesses need to be innovative, automate through the appropriate tools and upskill your people to shift focus from admin tasks to more strategic tasks”.
“Manually recording payments, checks, expenditures for hours, where you can invest the time to realise your costs, analyse the data and generate insights, to have visibility, to allow for better decision-making.
“So definitely, rethinking and redesigning is key for businesses to cope with inflation.”
EY Cyprus says hybrid working is at the top of employees’ agenda, only second to pay concerns generated by high inflation.
According to a recent EY survey, the main motivation for employees seeking new jobs is a desire for higher pay due to inflation, overtaking flexible working conditions.
“Employees around the world now hold more sway in the global job market, with two-fifths (43%) of respondents saying they are likely to quit in the next 12 months – driven mostly by a desire for higher total pay, better career opportunities and flexibility amid rising inflation, a shrinking labour market and an increase in jobs offering flexible working,” says the EY 2022 Work Reimagined Survey.
“Flexible working arrangements were by far the biggest factors leading to employee moves according to last year’s survey”.
It noted that eight out of ten employees still want to work remotely at least twice a week.
Panayiotis Thrasyvoulou, Associate Partner and Head of People Advisory Services at EY Cyprus, said: “Employers will need to try harder to retain their workforce, as, in the post-COIVD world, employees are feeling empowered to leave their jobs if their expectations are not met”.
“With the majority of employees wanting to work remotely at least twice a week and employers concerned that remote work is affecting productivity, pay increases are now emerging as a key motivator for changing jobs.
“To face this challenge, companies must instil trust and provide a package that considers total pay, flexibility and career path.”