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Hybrid work is here to stay, but it needs some rebalancing

By Graeme Scannell | |6 minute read

Australia has almost reached a three-year milestone of embracing that work can happen from outside of the office. COVID-19 lockdowns enforced the move to remote work, supported by technology tools. Now we are starting to better understand how hybrid working can improve outcomes and better align with how we work. 

MYOB had embraced a flexible workstyle pre-COVID, but like many others, the pandemic enabled widespread adoption of flexibility as the norm. This allows for greater adaptability to the different ways employees can balance work with their lives and responsibilities outside of the workplace. 

The shift to flexible working has undoubtedly brought numerous benefits to the working community, especially for people who found full-time office-based work challenging. This includes, among others, people with disabilities, those with a lengthy and costly commute, and those with caring responsibilities. 


The approach of working fully remotely held us steady and kept us safe during the peak of COVID, but the pendulum has swung again, and businesses find themselves at a hybrid working crossroads. How do we balance expectations between individuals, teams and companies for remote versus in-person ways of working?

For all businesses, a different approach to leadership, development and collaboration is required. And despite the desire of employees to have absolute flexibility, for a significant number of businesses, and for many reasons, the office still has a vital role to play. 

When space is designed to attract people, enable teams (especially when teams are forming), and empower innovation, it becomes a strategic asset for any company. The workplace needs to be a vessel that represents culture, empowers solutions, and ultimately drives an ROI that justifies its purpose.  

At MYOB, we see the office as an essential hub for innovation, social wellbeing, development and teamwork. The office not only brings people together, but creates and enhances collaboration and innovation and empowers mentoring and learning. For us, relationships matter, and those relationships thrive when teams prioritise face-to-face time for appropriate activities.

In this new hybrid world, it falls to leaders to set an example and shine a light on the importance of building social capital. When teams aren’t in the office five days a week, leaders need to create purposeful engagements to build engagement, by ensuring their people are provided with both incidental and structured development opportunities. For example, using days in the office for brainstorming and teamwork, and remote working days for tasks that require distraction-free concentration.

The informal mentorship that takes place when teams are in the same space is invaluable. Less experienced employees learn from in-person interactions on how effective meetings are led, how conflict is resolved, and how to interact with more senior team members. This develops confidence and skills and, more than anything, enables great-quality work. 

The Centre for the New Workforce at Swinburne University of Technology explores the complexity of hybrid work with its recent research and suggests new thinking is required on all fronts. It found that the oldest generation in the workforce currently has the strongest preference for working from home, while Gen Zers have the strongest preference for the office. However, many would agree the former have a huge role to play in supporting the next generation of workers with the development of mentoring that being together brings, especially considering they themselves benefited from this when developing skills and building their careers. The office simply provides this opportunity. 

MYOB is rebalancing our approach to how we work. We want to safeguard our culture while ensuring individuals and teams have the flexibility to thrive and grow. We believe the office is where great collaborative work happens and outcomes are achieved. Equally, space increases engagement and accelerates organic personal development from others, which is especially significant considering the value and importance of informal mentorship. 

Helping people get into a rhythm with the mix of office and remote working does require setting habits so individuals can get the maximum benefit from teams being together. Although this belief started as a hypothesis, it has been validated for us in a recent employee survey where it was confirmed that 91 per cent of employees saw MYOB’s model of working flexibly worked for their team.   

At MYOB, we have introduced a team-level “flex deal” where each team, based on their role and objectives, agrees on when and why they’re together, when they’re online and when they are remote. This enables a stable structure for all facets of the working experience that works for the company, the team, and the individual.

Hybrid is here to stay, but companies need to rebalance and reapproach the role of the workplace considering every aspect of “work”, “function”, and “space”. Hybrid work needs to be fair and equitable. It needs to allow for development and social wellbeing; hybrid needs to move toward being an enabler for people and companies to enhance their competitive value and attractiveness as an employer.

Graeme Scannell is the head of workplace experience at MYOB.


Hybrid working

In a hybrid work environment, individuals are allowed to work from a different location occasionally but are still required to come into the office at least once a week. With the phrase "hybrid workplace," which denotes an office that may accommodate interactions between in-person and remote workers, "hybrid work" can also refer to a physical location.