- Financial companies such as KPMG and Lloyd’s of London are switching to a hybrid working model.
- Kevin Hogarth, KPMG UK chief people officer, told staff will work differently post-pandemic.
- But experts say that firms might “be sleepwalking into discrimination” by choosing hybrid working.
Companies worldwide are beginning to reopen their offices to welcome workers back to work as COVID-19 constraints ease. Others have opted to follow a new working atmosphere than before the pandemic. Some employers will allow employees to work in the workplace, from home, or another location, known as hybrid working.
KPMG, an accounting and professional services company, is one of the many businesses making the switch. Kevin Hogarth, KPMG UK’s chief people officer, told Insider that the Big Four consultancy intends to encourage workers to divide their time between the workplace, home, and client offices.
“We’ve made it clear that we won’t be operating the same way we were before the pandemic,” Hogarth said.
He clarified that because they had more flexibility in organising themselves and didn’t have to commute, the bulk of KPMG’s staff was acceptable with continuing to work a portion of their time at home. He said that this improved their work-life balance.
Despite this, Hogarth said that KPMG employees missed interacting with their coworker. They want to spend some time in the workplace, but not as much as before the pandemic.
It comes as KPMG announced that UK workers would get an extra two and a half hours off every week during the summer, as well as an extra day off on June 21.
According to Jon Holt, KPMG UK’s chief executive, Hybrid work model would enable employees to plan their workweeks, while offices will be places to collaborate.
“Because of the pandemic, we have a whole cohort of people who have never been in the workplace and have never been coached face-to-face – we need to re-establish those ties,” he said.
A hybrid company model could spark litigation.
Martyn Sakol, the managing partner of business psychology firm Organisation Effectiveness Cambridge (OE Cam), told Insider how hybrid working could contribute to workplace inequality.
“By following a hybrid solution that appears to be more inclusive, companies could be sleepwalking into discrimination,” Sakol said.
According to Sanok, employees who work in the office five days a week have an unfair advantage in connecting, evolving, and adapting. They have connections to the boss, are better networked, have more exciting work to do, and may earn a promotion sooner than those who work from home more often, he explained.
Women are more inclined to work from home.
On the other hand, people at home do not have the same access to technology, working space, or privacy as office workers, according to Sanok. Women are more inclined to work from home in some cultures, which could lead to a 1970s male culture in different offices, he added.
According to Sanok, if business leaders aren’t careful, they may face legal action because of “presence privilege and psychological prejudice” towards those who come into the office more often.
Sandeep Mishra, a professor at the University of Guelph’s Lang School of Business and Economics, agreed with Sanok. “People working in the office will be more “present” in the minds of those in the company,” Mishra told Insider, implying that there won’t be “an equal playing field” between those working in the office and those working remotely.
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