Will hybrid working create 'second-class' employees?

'We must ensure a level playing field for all team members,' one CEO urges

Will hybrid working create 'second-class' employees?

The hybrid model of work can result in a disparity between employees who work in the office and those who work from home. This disparity could lead to remote staff being viewed as “second-class” citizens, according to Zillow CEO Rich Barton during the property specialist’s recent earnings call.

“We must ensure a level playing field for all team members, regardless of their physical location,” Barton said. “There cannot be a two-class system – those in the room being first-class and those on the phone being second-class.”

Read more: Will working from home hurt your career?

For years, there has been a notion that working from home would hurt an employee’s chances of getting a promotion or raise.  But as this 2020 study shows, regardless of whether the employee is working from home or the office, employers are keen to provide them with the same number of growth opportunities. The success of remote working comes down to how supportive an employer is.

“When companies fully support employees who opt to work from home, their workers are said to be more likely to rise from the ranks and deliver quality output,” HRD reported.

Zillow for its part has relied on cloud technology to keep the business running smoothly, especially when public health restrictions in early 2020 called for workers to remain at home. But it is now also weighing its options as it prepares to call employees back to the office and “maximise flexibility”. Before the pandemic, leaders had long considered collaborating in shared spaces as an integral part of their corporate culture. Even as flexible working becomes the norm, companies like Google, Cisco and Zillow are beginning to underscore the need for employees to come together on site.

Read more: Is all-remote the future of work?

“We are committed to keeping our offices and we are going to use our offices as a place where people will come and collaborate with their teams and other teams,” said Dan Spaulding, Zillow’s chief people officer. “We will also have an office available to work in when, say, they have small children at home or they have situations where they have a lot of roommates and they are going to want a place to go and work,” Spaulding told CNN.

“But we also recognise that there is a balance between where people can be most effective – and that balance is unique for all of us. For some people, that may mean coming into the office a couple of days every month, and other people may want to come into the office three or four days a week just because of how their situation sets up,” he said.

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