Padraig O’Morin: Hybrid work satisfies our need for belonging and independence

As someone who thinks remote work is a very good thing, I was recently struck by an idea that surprised me. Almost all the memories I have of working in a variety of places over a long period are what we might call “in-office” memories of talk, jokes, disagreements, all that stuff.

Hence the question: If you had worked remotely all this time, what would have been left?

Work, of course, but I don’t usually go back to the details of the work you did or didn’t do.

I see faces, hear voices, mostly laughter, and sometimes heated arguments. When I remember them, I can easily see a list of all my workplaces starting with school holiday jobs.

Bringing it all together over the decades, there are the jokesters, the heroes, the deadly serious, the funny (sometimes deadly too), the angry, the nice, the addicts, the principled, the hustlers, the good performers, the pure coincidences, those who have fooled others and those who have fooled themselves. Don’t ask me how many boxes above I’ve checked.

Could these fantasies have taken place on Zoom or Teams (I’m a fan of both)? In general, people in the corridor after a distant meeting do not say to you, in a low voice, out of the side of their mouth: “I will not believe anything a colleague says.” Complete opportunity. Wasn’t he the one? . . ‘

But when you miss that, you miss out on a lot of the richness of the corporate world. Let me rephrase that: When you miss the gossip, arguments, and jokes, you miss almost all the richness of the corporate world.

This is not what employers want to hear. No one ever says in a job interview when asked why they want the job, “I hear this is a great place for crazy people.”

Microsoft’s New Future of Work report published last year suggests that hybrid work — in the office sometimes but not all the time — is the most popular option for employees. It gives them the best of both worlds – they get the richness of physical contact on site but can balance that with the rest of their lives.

From a psychological point of view, the hybrid system satisfies our need for belonging and our need for independence. It provides enough space for both while still getting the job done.

It’s not a bed of roses. Some people work longer hours remotely than onsite; Some feel disconnected and some feel conflicted between the demands of work and home.

Some managers find it difficult to organize people working in different parts of the country or the world.

One manager said: “I’m a naturally caffeinated person – I’m ready to go to meetings and bring energy” and complained that the remote working system was “simply exhausting as I have to look at the camera for nine hours”.

For most people, I expect the solution lies in a balance between remote and in-office work; Not all of one and not all of the other. For others, depending on the type of work they do, it might be a four-day week

For those who live too far from the office to commute, telecommuting four days a week is better than telecommuting five days a week — so they may be willing to miss out on all those non-office things. The work stuff I mentioned so fondly above. I think a friendly office culture can make up for the loss of that a lot, even online.

Traffic was well built up on our route by 4pm with worker bees heading home, yawning, and reducing their entertainment to watch me unpack the boxes.

It’s no wonder hybrid work has such support among those who have tried it.

However, I am glad that I had those experiences which I called the illusion of offices where we had to spend our hour on the stage, in places with more actors than the real theatre.

  • Padraig O’Morain (Instagram, Twitter: @padraigomorain) is accredited by the Irish Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy. His books include Acceptance – Creating Change and Moving Forward; His daily mental reminder is available for free via email (

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