How Is the Digital Tech Industry Pushing for a 4-day Hybrid Work Week?

Lexi Wardle
How Is the Digital Tech Industry Pushing for a 4-day Hybrid Work Week?

Imagine it: You’ve made it to the end stage after applying for hundreds of jobs via a Zoom/ Google Meet interview where you’ve met your future boss. Your new employer is not just in another country but on another continent! You’ve yet to move out of your parents’ house because the cost of living has increased so much you’ll only move out when you’ve saved enough to buy your own place. Somehow you’ve managed to emerge into the future world of work with a remote job that doesn’t require you to be on-site.

This was me two and a half months ago. In the next few years, employers will take advantage of this robust way of opening up the opportunity for more remote workers follow the same path where the employee market is truly global, innovative, talented and creating value.

Generally, the concept of working 28 to 32 hours for 4 days instead of 37 hours plus is nothing new and isn’t the result of being forced out of the workplace because of the COVID pandemic. Whilst the virus remains a threat to society at large and the vaccine is rolled out, it will be businesses’ responsibility to allow employees to continue to work from home.

It may surprise you to know it has been a social experiment carried out by global businesses for some years proving what they have known all along. Remote hybrid working not only makes good business sense in significant cuts on overheads but also contributes to an increase in innovation and profits. Key to WFH longevity? Internet connection. 65% of Americans reported they had a fast enough internet service to have video calls. Secure information is accessible to all via cloud migration wherever employees are in the world.

Microsoft, KPMG, Deloitte and Unilever are to name but a few who have found employees are more efficient, experience higher job contentment, motivated, increased interest in the business and are 40% more productive. Good work-life balance + diversity + inclusion = Happier employee + high productivity = higher retention profits & innovation + successful business.

In this article we will be looking at how it has affected the three P’s: passions/parenting, productivity and progress looking at the McKinsey Future of Work Report, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) ‘Managing Remote Work and Optimizing Hybrid Working Models’, and The New Stack’s.


Just as those of us without responsibilities have always dreamed of combining work with having fun, the hybrid work week is equally a godsend for working parents with young families.

What if you don’t have responsibilities but do house or flat share with others? What if you have similar hybrid remote jobs? How do you try and work around everyone else without your work suffering? It’s a juggle for some and a struggle for others so businesses need investment if they want it to keep going.

Those who cannot find a happy medium with their home office setup may find themselves at a disadvantage in terms of available workspace. Wherever employees choose to work they will be subjected to the same standards.

McKinsey report says fathers are making steps to fully embrace flexible working for childcare but are fully there yet. This is due to gender disparities across industries with more women in occupational roles at a lower wage. Men and women tend to revert to type with women taking care of children as the man is the breadwinner. As the world gradually embraces the world of remote working and a hybrid set up, businesses will need to invest in training up more women 19% of whom will find their jobs at risk due to automation and robotics in the next few years.

On the other hand, in developed countries with remote hybrid working where parents have more give and take in childcare and females have degrees. Women are also more productive when they don’t need to spend time traveling to work, have better flexibility and not disturbed by other colleagues. Women, despite working remotely were also more affected by children’s education having to organize their work schedule around it. In the COVID era institutions like MIT and Harvard Broad Institute have created a day-care program involving subsidies for working parents by processing daily COVID tests onsite. The pandemic won’t be here forever but kids will get ill and employees will work around this with minimal impact.


The pandemic has already had countries implementing work infrastructure across the globe. Australia has taken necessary action with 50% in the private sector and 25% in the public sector.

There is good news in the digital tech sphere amongst the German, Indian and American employees who were surveyed by the Boston Consulting Group. They experienced improved relationships in the workplace were more likely to report high productivity now as they did pre-pandemic.

In America, the results are stark. 61% are only able to do a few hours work or not at all which may turn out to be the most surprising fact of the pandemic. 22% of the workforce work remotely between 3-5 days per week and 17% can work to a flexible schedule for 1-3 days.

248 American Chief Operating Officers surveyed in the McKinsey Report said they had seen 33% reduction of office space because of lease expiration dates. Outdoor brand REI sold its brand-new headquarters and instead setting up smaller offices across a few cities. However, other global brands have gone the other way like Amazon citing a lack of spontaneity across virtual teams leaving no option but to invest in 900,000 square foot of office space across 6 cities.

India can only currently manage 5% of remote working for 3-5 days because their economy involves jobs like retail and agriculture that are so physically demanding they are impossible to do remotely. They could potentially have 12% of the workforce working remotely particularly in the fields of finance and technology. How could India achieve this? More infrastructure needs to be put into place to support where there is a little or non-existent. As the demand for tech increases for customers so will the need for more resources for businesses to be able to operate at full capacity.

The attitude towards a 4-day work week is changing because 95% of those surveyed by ‘The New Stack’ said they weren’t in favor of returning to the traditional way of working 5 days a week and 33% never want to go back to the office again.

Businesses will need to make a routine general enough to keep employees motivated like Microsoft’s GitHub who wrote their “working manifesto” championing flexibility, remote working, exchanging information and output instead of time spent. Different departments are communicating with each other in ways they never used to and don’t stick to silos because time is short and the only thing that matters is both parties keep the end user at the core of what they do. This is an agile way of working to suit all industries, jobs and employees increasing productivity through technology, inter-departmental and team collaborations, quick decision- making and experimentation.

There is a lot to be said for this new work structure. Remote work has finally earned its place on the list of options available to employees. WAF (Work Autonomy, Flexibility and Work-Life Balance) Project Report from the University of Kent in the UK found experiences in lockdown increased productivity, concentration and motivation. It recommended more flexible working and training for managers to oversee remote teams effectively.

New innovative leaders should also be highlighted within the business to teach peers their tips, tricks and hints of streamlining work processes and useful tools. Virtual team sessions with everyone on mute to each other as they make phone and video sales calls but can watch it happen and celebrate a sale in real time. They can also have access to private chats with the team leader and just-in-time coaching.

For those businesses who are taking the leap into the unknown, employees are taking charge by investing in their own homes or moving somewhere with an extra room for a gym or office. They are also cutting down on meaningless expenses. Since they no longer commute, go out for lunch or spend lavish amounts on work clobber the finances are focused on better home office tech to make their jobs easier.

In San Francisco, a one-bed rented apartment decreased price by 24.2% on average while NYC who have 28,000 residents for every square mile had 15,000 vacant apartments in September 2020. Will most workers move from 24/7 cities like NYC and London as well as hubs in Seattle and Amsterdam to bring economic prosperity to smaller cities?

Goldman Sachs has the minority view with 10% of employees working in the office and disproves of WFH as being the new normal. Workplace leases of 5 years or longer are leading the charge back to the office as well. They are not alone and it is understandable that this pandemic has seen an increase in anxiety, depression, stress and loneliness. With Microsoft researchers finding stress and working too much in neurological activity within a 2-hour timeframe. For countries who have yet to get on top of COVID, employees are also experiencing a new level of fatigue.

In November and December 2020 PWC surveyed 133 executives and 1200 office workers in America. Most executives were pushing for employees to return to the office by the summer. Over half of employees have said they would WFH for 3 days a week compared to 68% of employers wanting them in for the same amount of time. 83% agreed WFH was a success but 87% said the office was essential for tapping into the most human side of us to be with other people.

Over 50% of the workforce will have no choice but to return to the workplace. Manual jobs requiring machinery or other tools or personal face-to-face service in nursing, lab equipment, personalized shopping experiences, agriculture, transporting goods and services, building inspectors, property maintenance, electricians, builders, plumbers and binmen. Nursing and frontline medical staff are needed to staff hospitals and care homes.


In our life uninhibited by contagious diseases 25% continually worked from home while 75% worked from home with valid reason, permission from work (home renovations & looking after ill family members).

Working remotely and flexibly in the pre-COVID era was an experiment that never really took off for most industries until the pandemic forced us to embrace it.

Jobs that are done remotely but are better in person include: coaching, counseling, advising, customer and colleague bonding, employee onboarding, negotiations and critical decision making, teaching, training and collaborative work. How will businesses coach over Zoom, Slack, Skype, WebX etc?

Teaching has amongst teachers and parents has shown the quality has suffered. This is a blessing in disguise because it isn’t to the detriment of school student but college students too who go through the rite of passage familiar to so many. It cannot be replicated remotely.

Court sessions have had to move online but unlikely to remain as such because of legal right and defendants’ access to the internet or lawyers as well as behavioral cues not able to pick up from listening to the voice.

How are businesses ensuring this level of productivity continues?

Gitlab & Automattic will remain remote.

Twitter and Facebook are making the switch to 100% with the latter opening small hubs in cities.

BP Oil will use a flexible work model seeing 25,000 office staff WFH twice a week.

Microsoft offering 50-50 to all employees with the added benefit of 100% remote pending approval from manager.

Mozilla has always benefitted from a hybrid model and the choice to be at the office or at home.

• 95% of Aviva employees want to be fully remote or office-home flexible schedule.

Salesforce: 80% of employees wanted a physical office.

• 75% of investment banks want to keep employees 100% WFH.

Buffer has offered employees $500 to support them in creating their home office space, reimbursements for coworking memberships or working in coffee shops to suit employees different working styles.

Siemens offered 2-3 days of remote working per week embracing the opportunity to “reshape the world and reimagine work.”

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna’s work-from home pledge outlining the business’ commitment to work-life balance.

Nationwide insurance company closed small offices after installing new digital operating systems, cybersecurity and collaboration tools.

JP Morgan intends to have its 60,950 employees spend half of each month or a couple of days a week working remotely.

Across 2000 activities in 800 jobs and 9 nations analyzing, processing and coding data, team communication, education and counseling are just a few jobs that can be done on a remote basis. 75% of all German, Indian and American employees surveyed were as productive during the pandemic as before. 50% are as productive during collaborations normally in conferences. 80.2% of the UK’s economy is in the services sector working for 33% of the time productively. Other advanced economies could also benefit with shifting to 28-30% remote working with zero impact on productivity. Industries that have a workforce with more degrees will benefit more from working remotely. Finance, insurance, management, business services, IT are the most likely to move to 100% remote working without it impacting productivity.

For some healthcare professionals conducting in-person appointments do work remotely 11% as opposed to medical professionals who need to work on patients with implements. A statistician/ financial analyst can work from home but not surveyors. Consumer trend analysts can do the entire job remotely yet a crime scene analyst cannot because they are needed in various locations. Travel agent organizing travel packages can tally up someone’s budgeted costings over Zoom but a shelf stacker, cashier/ checkout operator, stocktaker, cheese monger, fishmonger, baker and butcher need to be present in the shop.

Working remotely for some is a lonely and isolating place. For some a hybrid working environment gives the best of both worlds and employees are still trying to find the best way to manage the work-life balance. Whilst remote hybrid work like that undertaken by the digital industry cannot be applied to all jobs across all industries many do have tech and digital jobs.

A hybrid flexible working week differs in every business and country. It is likely that everyone will be content with some degree of flexible working. Hybrid will be popular for the highly educated and best paid minority of the workforce in certain industries, jobs and locations around the world.

McKinsey report found 41% of employees reported they were more productive at home than in the office. There was also a 45% increase in productivity by working remotely as the pandemic has gone on. 38% of 800 executives from all industries want remote employees to work 2 or more days away from the office post-pandemic compared to 22% pre-pandemic. 19% want employees to work 3 or more days remotely because they see the world of work embracing a hybrid model of WFH and in the office. Businesses are also trialing semi-flexible work for 3-days per week with meetings scheduled for designated times no matter where employees are. 60% of fully remote businesses looking into require team collaborations and culture a few times per year.

Collecting employee data allows businesses to serve their employees in the same way they serve customers: tailored and personalized to each experience with one end goal in mind – be the best at what they do. Employees will experience a personal tailored work week that is unique to them and their circumstances. Businesses with employee wellness at the heart of operations investing in mental, physical and social health and having colleagues work together regularly.

How can they make the most of their workspaces without compromising on employee health and safety? Workplaces are shrinking. Since remote businesses operations are more effective with employees only in 2 days per week it doesn’t make sense to waste money on so much office space. Buildings and floors might be shared between businesses with a day dedicated to a deep clean and have a closed office for 3-day weekend.

With 6 months or less on the lease businesses are downsizing. 36% increase in offsite working with less need for office space. 30% of tech companies are doing away with workplaces altogether and are 100% remote. To save on overheads, perhaps we will see less people flocking to the HQs of major corporations and instead see mini hubs in other cities for colleagues or industry collaborators to meet. Moody’s Analytics prove that empty office space will increase to 20.2% by the end of 2022.

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