NCC: Discover & define emerging hybrid work trends

Challenge

Covid-19 disrupted office work early on. But repeated lockdowns delayed the evolution of actual hybrid work. Return-to-office initiatives died. Working from home remained the default. Few new ideas were circulated in the media or elsewhere.

It took until the winter & spring of 2022 that things started changing. Workers were finally free to work how & where they wanted. But what did they want? How had 2 years of working from home changed them? And what did this all mean for the future of office work?

These were some of the business-critical questions our client NCC, a major Nordic construction company, asked in the spring of 2022.

Approach

To uncover new insights on the topic, we set out to do an agile but comprehensive research project. It was clear that we had to integrate qualitative, quantitative, and design methods. To gather the perfect team, we invited journalist & author Miia Savaspuro to join the project. One-on-one interviews were followed by workshops. Then newly unearthed ideas were validated through a knowledge worker poll (N=586).

The research phase concluded at the end of June 2022 and resulted in 5 hypotheses on how office work is changing.

Outcome

The 5 new hypotheses were:

  1. Hybrid work changes attitudes - full-time return to the office is no longer possible

  2. The time of pretending to work is over - working hours will decrease already in the near future

  3. The best culture wins - corporate culture requires decisive leadership

  4. Soulless offices are out – people come to the office seeking creativity and each other

  5. Employees have become masters - employers servants

A white paper presented these hypotheses to the broader public in September 2022. Changing Face of Work was edited by Miia Savaspuro and can be freely downloaded at ncc.fi/tyonuudetkasvot