Is Hybrid Working Here to Stay? Hybrid Working in Scotland “Leveling Out”

21/12/2023

MANY OF US were forced to work from home during the COVID-19 epidemic. Although some people had previously been working remotely, for many, COVID was the spark that enabled them to seek remote employment opportunities. Thus, the number of employees in Scotland working in a hybrid way is now leveling out, with no more than 39% working fully in an office setting. 

The Scottish Government has committed to a hybrid working model, allowing civil servants to work partly in the workplace, partly from home, and in other on-site locations (for some roles). The KPMG survey found that a hybrid approach benefits recruitment, retention, and engagement by giving employees the flexibility they want. Let’s dig a bit deeper to get an idea of the current employment market, the opportunities it provides, and recent stats.

Modern Technology Reshaping the Employment Reality

It is not only the global pandemic that has caused a major transformation of the employment market. Modern technology also stands as a revolutionary force, sculpting new employment realities. For many years, technology has impacted people’s connections with their workplaces and how they interact with their coworkers. Several technology breakthroughs have helped to make remote working a realistic and viable option:

High-speed Internet — The widespread availability of high-speed Internet connections has transformed remote work. It allows for seamless communication, file sharing, video conferencing, and access to cloud-based apps from nearly any location on the planet.

Collaboration tools — Solutions, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom, have become vital for remote teams to efficiently communicate and interact. These systems provide real-time chat, video conferencing, file sharing, and project management, encouraging team members to feel engaged. 

Specialized phone systems — Programs with advanced features for call center make customer communication effective and smooth, no matter if customer support representatives or sales managers work from home or from the office.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) — VPNs create secure and private connections, particularly crucial for remote work. They ensure that data transmitted between remote locations and the company’s network remains encrypted and protected from potential cybersecurity threats.

Cloud computing — Cloud-based services such as Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365 enable workers to access documents, spreadsheets, and other resources from any location, making remote work as productive as in-office work.

Project management software — Tools like Trello, Asana, and Monday.com allow teams to organize work, establish deadlines, and measure progress, keeping projects on track.

Cybersecurity measures — Remote employment requires comprehensive cybersecurity measures to be in place to secure sensitive data. Companies have made significant investments in cybersecurity solutions to protect their remote workers.

Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) — Automation and artificial intelligence have simplified numerous operations, making remote work more efficient. Chatbots, for example, may manage consumer requests, and algorithms can aid in data analysis and decision-making.

All in all, modern technology is transforming the employment landscape, offering new opportunities for growth, learning, and flexibility, while also presenting challenges for businesses to adapt and evolve in response to these changes.

Quick Overview of Recent Market Stats

Recent events have significantly impacted the employment market. The labor market has shown resilience and adaptability, with the balance between labor supply and demand returning to a level of normalcy. The hybrid work model has become the new norm, with a clear majority of office workers being offered appropriate employment contracts. Here are some of the key stats to be aware of:

27% of people with employment that allows for remote work choose to work solely from home;

Only 17% of those with professions that can be done from anywhere say they want to work from an office;

The most common option is hybrid working, with slightly more than half of respondents (about 52%) choosing a mix of office and remote work;

Individuals aged 55 and above are the most likely to give preference to exclusive remote employment;

The majority of respondents aged 16 to 45 choose hybrid working, which involves dividing their time between home and the workplace.

“It’s clear from our research that there’s still no one-works-for-everyone solution when it comes to how staff wants to work and how flexible employers are willing to be,” commented Keith Mason, Hays Scotland director. Amidst the ongoing discourse about on-site vs remote work, recent research conducted by Hays has shown that the proportion of workers in Scotland who work remotely (39%) is beginning to stabilize, with 39% also engaging in full-time office work. 

A survey of over 15,000 businesses and professionals discovered that more than half (56%) of workers would choose a job offer even if it is not a hybrid employment model. In contrast, slightly less than half (44%) said that they wouldn’t take a job if it didn’t allow for working from home. While over a quarter (27%) of Scottish companies expect to change their hybrid working offering over the next year, over two-thirds of firms (68%) now provide hybrid working. 

Even though hybrid working seems to be stabilizing, over two-thirds of businesses (71%) report that they have remodeled their offices, meeting spaces, or workplaces to facilitate seamless hybrid working. Furthermore, a majority of Scottish businesses — 55% — now have a policy in place regarding hot desking at work. After cutting down on the number of workstations, 57% of respondents believe this is a new strategy, compared to 43% who say they have always done business this way.

Permanent Homeworking for Information & Communication Companies

Overall, the number of enterprises stating that they use or plan to use homeworking as a permanent business model climbed somewhat from 16% in fall 2020 to 23% in spring 2022. This varies greatly by industry. In early April 2022, more than half (54%) of enterprises in the information and communication sector indicated they were utilizing, or planned to use, increasing homeworking as part of a permanent business model. Only 3% of enterprises in the lodging and food services sector and 5% of businesses in the construction field, which are less adaptive to homeworking, fell into this category.

Between Nov 2020 and Apr 2022, the following industries witnessed the greatest growth. This indicated that they employ or will employ homeworking as a permanent business model:

Information and communication industry (23%);

Education (20%);

Industry of professional and scientific activities (12%);

Industry of arts, leisure, and recreation (11%).

Among the key reasons for companies to vote for a hybrid employment model are better worker well-being (60%), lower overhead (43%), and greater productivity (41%). 

Hybrid Working and Improved Work-Life Balance

In February 2022, more than three-quarters (78%) of those who worked from home in some capacity indicated that being able to work remotely improved their work-life balance. Half of those polled said it was easier to accomplish work (52%) and less distractions (53%). Younger workers aged between 16 and 29 were less likely to report fewer interruptions when homeworking than those aged 30 and above. 

Previous research from January 2022 showed that almost half of homeworkers (46%) had seen their expenditure decline after working from home. While the majority of homeworkers (86%) claimed they paid more on energy costs, half said they spent less on commuting gasoline and parking (50%), and two-fifths said they spent less on public transportation (40%).

However, 8% of homemakers reported no benefits. The most significant disadvantage reported by homeworkers in February 2022 was difficulties collaborating with others. A bit more than a quarter (26%) also reported additional distractions while working from home, and almost a third (31%) said they had no disadvantages at all.

Obviously, the world of work is undergoing a transformative shift. Hybrid models redefine the traditional 9-to-5 work structure, providing employees with the flexibility to balance work and personal life. This not only enhances job satisfaction but also attracts a diverse talent pool that values healthy work-life integration. With remote work becoming a significant component of hybrid models, businesses can tap into a global talent pool. Such an employment model opens up opportunities to hire skilled professionals from different geographical locations, fostering diversity and bringing fresh perspectives to the workforce.

The Future Is Here

As we look ahead, it becomes increasingly clear that hybrid working is not just a passing trend but a lasting feature of Scotland’s employment landscape. The “leveling out” effect continues to reshape the way work is perceived, breaking down barriers and creating a more accessible and inclusive space for all. The journey towards a more hybrid and inclusive working environment in Scotland represents not just a shift in how we work but a reflection of the values. It’s a journey towards balance, inclusivity, and a future where professionals are empowered to thrive, regardless of where they call their workplace.

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