Hybrid Working and the Great Reset

By Adam Smale

As the COVID-19 pandemic transitioned into an economic slowdown and spiraling costs of living, many commentators were lamenting the Great Resignation – much larger than normal numbers of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs.

A piece in the Harvard Business Review summarizes the reasons behind this into the Five R’s: retirement, relocation, reconsideration, reshuffling, and reluctance. In addition to the relative benefits of retiring early, the pandemic forced employees to reconsider their work-life balance and caring roles. In turn, relocations have increased in order to be nearer to loved ones and not so much to enjoy remote working from exotic locations. Rather than leave the labour market entirely, employees are reshuffling by moving between jobs. However, they are reluctant to return to jobs in certain industries that are based on low-paid, in-person roles such as the service industry.

More broadly, this can be seen as a ‘Great Reset’ whereby employees, amidst high levels of uncertainty and financial difficulties, are reevaluating their values, goals and careers.

At the same time, we have witnessed the rapid rise of hybrid work. Many companies are reporting almost no drop in individual performance, and even some evidence of improvements, especially when measured in terms of productivity and employee engagement. However, regarding the 3 C’s most employers worry about with remote working – collaboration, control and culture – it is still too early to tell.

When combining all these things – the Great Reset, hybrid working creating fault lines in collaboration, control and culture, and attractive job opportunities in an employee-driven labour market – you have a ‘perfect storm’ for problems in talent retention. Whilst compensation will be key due to cost of living, managers will need to understand in detail the priorities of their individual team members.

About the author:

Adam Smale, Dean at the School of Management at the University of Vaasa and D.Sc. holder in Economics, has built an impressive academic and research portfolio since moving to Vaasa, Finland, in 2004. A Professor of Management and Business Administration since 2012, his teaching career spans 15 years, marked by an award-winning teaching case on Global Talent Management at KONE Corporation.

Adam’s research stands out for its focus on international HRM, particularly in talent management and multinational corporations. He is a member of the Human Resource Management Research Group and has around 30 articles published in leading international journals. His contributions have established new insights in areas like talent identification, HRM practices, and cross-cultural collaboration in careers. Furthermore, his role on the editorial boards of prestigious journals like the Human Resource Management Journal showcases his influence in the academic community.

In summary, Adam Smale’s remarkable academic achievements, innovative research contributions, and global influence solidify his standing as a world-class scholar in the fields of management and human resources. His work continues to inspire scholars and professionals alike. Adam is an UvaasaExEd lecturer and also a board member.