"I happened to discover why the apple falls, and I understood the gravity of workers sitting in chairs with eyes on computer screens. Remote work demonstrated that investing in controlling productivity based on adhering to employees' schedules was the biggest mistake I had made." José Teixeira, CEO of DST group, in "Ethics and Hybrid Work: Proximities and Distances."

The Fórum de Ética aims to promote corporate ethics through the exchange of experiences, joint reflection, and the creation and sharing of knowledge. Established in 2015, it was redesigned in 2020 to include sponsors, substantially reinforcing the achievement of its goal.

In addition to the three regular meetings per year and other regular activities, the Forum conducts an annual study that sets the theme for the annual conference and dinner.

In 2021, it coincided with the triennial European study, "Ethics at Work," by IBE, of which the Ethics Forum has been a National Partner since 2018, Ethics at Work: 2021 International Survey of Employees | IBE,  with the presentation of national results and collective reflection.

In a renewed era of hybrid work, new ethical challenges have emerged, but above all, opportunities have opened up to (re)imagine the future of the workforce and organizations; to understand (better) what (our) workers and (our) leadership think; to explore the creativity and ethical sensitivity of each individual; to redesign diverse, equitable, and inclusive workspaces (McKinsey). Due to all these challenges, in 2022, our study was dedicated to Hybrid Work, resulting in the survey "Ethics and Hybrid Work in the aftermath of the pandemic (ucp.pt)," the documentary "The Best of Both Worlds?" and the collective book "Ethics and Hybrid Work: Proximities and Distances" - the first work of the Ethics Forum Collection (ucp.pt). These different tools provide the opportunity to identify opportunities, to create guidelines, to (re)imagine the future of the workforce and organizations and to bring forth (more) humanized workspaces.

Based on the post-pandemic survey, we have identified three lines of reflection: a) the need to create regular spaces and moments, both formal and informal, for sharing perspectives and expectations; b) the need to pay attention to equity considering different types of vulnerabilities, including physical, mental, social, and financial; c) the importance of rethinking individual and collective responsibilities together with the notion of flexibility in different workspaces and times.

According to our survey, there is a significant level of satisfaction with hybrid work, which should therefore be considered in the future design of the world of work. On the other hand, the perception and experience of the inherent difficulties in adopting the hybrid model, considering the diversity of organizational contexts and the risks of promoting inequality at various levels, highlight the need for more mixed-method studies (qualitative and quantitative) that truly allow listening to the different stakeholders.

The reflections that contributed to the study "Ethics and Hybrid Work," and especially to the Collective Book, were written based on the prompt: "The ethical challenges I experienced / am experiencing / will experience with hybrid work". The language weaving the texts in this book is a message, not just a means of communication. Hybrid work is represented through images and metaphors that extend the meaning beyond linguistic context, embracing conceptual dimensions and actions. In other words, how we express reality shapes how we think and act in it. Images of the network, encounter, and dialogue coexists with the need to disconnect, the fear of disconnection, and the weight of distrust. The shared stories give a future to memory and invite us all to assume the legacy of this collective writing, based on experiences, learnings, resignifications, in a rhythm interspersed between proximities and distances.

Questions and some certainties are provided by the reading of this book: "Are we willing to review usual patterns of behavior, attitudes, and feelings that characterize the life of our organizations? Effective communication, (...) independence and autonomy, trust and the level of emotional security in relationships, (...) flexibility and openness to divergent opinions (...) are the foundational dimensions of healthy organizations, in any work regime. None of this is new; it has been said and written for a long time. If now, however, it becomes embodied knowledge, let us bless the circumstances that lead us to integrate what, also for a long time, we should have learned."

We believe that the documentary and the collective book, which complement this survey, have already addressed this challenge. In fact, we do not want to provide recipes or conduct only quantitative analyses, because we believe that qualitative data is essential to truly understand what people think. Reflection on ethics and hybrid work using these three tools – survey, collective book, and documentary – will help bring forth workspaces that contribute to a life with more human meaning. Our aim is to stress the difference between a more normative and procedural approach - THINKING ABOUT ETHICS – and a more experienced-centered one, integrating the thickness of the situations lived by each one - THINKING WITH ETHICS.

Have a great and impactful week!

Helena Gonçalves, Coordinator of Fórum de Ética
& Susana Magalhães, Coauthor of the study

This article refers to edition #227 of the "Have a Great and Impactful Week" newsletter, an initiative of the Center for Responsible Business & Leadership.