Hybrid working in 2023: interview with an expert


From emergency measure to matter of course: hybrid working has undergone a major evolution in a short time. What is the current state of affairs? How has hybrid working changed organisations and what does the future hold?

In the spring of 2022 we talked to Frank Vander Sijpe, Director HR Trends & Insights at Securex, about how businesses can successfully introduce hybrid working. A year and a half later we knocked on his door again and asked him to shed some light on how the situation has evolved since then.



In many businesses and organisations, the Covid pandemic was instrumental in forcing a definitive breakthrough for hybrid working. “That’s correct,” says Frank Vander Sijpe. “Looking at the figures on hybrid working from the Belgian statistical office Statbel, we see that prior to the Covid crisis, home working was theoretically possible in 17% of Belgian companies, compared to 34% today. So it’s fair to say by now that homeworking and teleworking are not a hype. Fuelled by the demand for a better work-life balance, technological advances and the globalisation of the labour market, we expect this figure to keep climbing in the years to come.”


Hybrid working is the biggest social experiment in a very long time.

Frank Vander Sijpe, Director HR Trends & Insights at Securex


Business culture is central

Although the business world has largely embraced hybrid working, the past year has also seen a return-to-work wave, in which businesses have asked their employees to go back to the office. “This is particularly the case for those companies who failed to embed hybrid working in their business culture,” he explains. “As such, this isn’t surprising, because hybrid working is the biggest social experiment in a very long time. It’s normal that businesses have to look for a new balance.”

The past year has been a learning process resulting in two important lessons, he continues. “On the one hand, it’s now clear there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all arrangement. Asserting that everyone has to work at the office one day a week without a valid reason is just pointless. Also, hybrid working is not for everyone, as it is fundamentally a matter of mutual trust – which can lead to tensions and difficult conversations within companies.

“On the other hand, businesses must strike a balance between employee well-being and economic reality. More well-being cannot be underestimated in our time of burnout, but soaring labour costs also mean that employees must perform adequately and be able to demonstrate their output. The question, however, is how to measure output in a knowledge economy. This is a process where we still have a long way to go.”


From open-plan office to home office

Hybrid working not only impacts the business culture – there have been changes to infrastructure as well. Offices are empty more often due to home working, causing businesses to re-evaluate their office space. “Companies are starting to abandon the open-plan office model,” Vander Sijpe explains. “People have a need to come together at the office. For creative work sessions, brainstorming sessions or in meetings where non-verbal communication comes into play, it is simply more effective to meet in person. There is a need for spaces that cater to this, such as meeting rooms and one-on-one bubbles. In addition, you obviously need sufficient office space for those who choose to work at the office every day because they prefer not to do so at home, for various reasons.”

A well-equipped home office is also crucial. This is clear on the housing market: homes with an office are highly sought after. Some employers already give their employees a home working allowance to compensate for, among others things, rising heating costs. “In the future, we expect applicants to start putting the installation of a home office on the negotiation table,” he adds.


Well-being as a deciding factor

While companies can be hesitant to adopt hybrid working, it’s clear for employees: the vast majority can’t wait to work from home in jobs where hybrid working is possible . “In today’s applicant-driven labour market, the option of working at home is a deciding factor,” says Vander Sijpe. “Companies where home working is possible but not allowed will find it more difficult to recruit new staff and staff turnover will be higher.”

Make no mistake, well-being is not limited to the fact of being able to work from home. The way it is organised is also crucial. “That’s right,” Vander Sijpe says. “Businesses that adopt hybrid working must also ensure adequate connection with their employees at home. That connection, and the feeling of being engaged, are very important for motivation.”


Future trends

Hybrid working has changed the way companies work and this trend will continue in the future. “For the future I see two major evolutions,” Vander Sijpe predicts. “On the one hand, hybrid working will lead to a higher degree of globalisation of the labour market. Companies that no longer find the right candidates in their home country will cast their net beyond national borders. Employees, too, will discover that a job is no longer location-bound, which will undoubtedly foster demand for ‘workations’ in the coming years. In addition, hybrid working can create more diversity on the job market. Home working, for example, may be an adequate solution for those who find it hard to leave their home for work. This may help solve the shortage of job applicants, and it can also open up possibilities for certain people.”


Would you like to optimise hybrid working in your SME? Our staff will be happy to help you set up a safe digital working environment. Contact your account manager now.

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