Last year, homeworking was a key focus for many businesses that needed to close their premises due to lockdown restrictions.
This year, and at this stage in the pandemic, attention has turned to a different style of working.
Google Trends shows us that interest in “hybrid working” has been rising steadily since March. This was about the same time that the highly anticipated roadmap out of lockdown was announced.
Queries rising for hybrid working is a reflection of the times we are living in. After more than a year of managing remote teams, employers are seeing the workplace in a whole new light. Does it fulfill the same need that it once did?
If the impending end to all pandemic restrictions has got you questioning how you’d like to manage your workforce moving forwards, the following may help you to decide.
What is hybrid working?
Hybrid working is a flexible style of working which involves both workplace attendance and remote working. Days spent working from home might be fixed or flexible depending on the needs of a business.
Hybrid working may also be commonly referred to as flexible working, due to the flexibility it offers on working location. Although flexible working can also refer to other elements such as flexi-time working hours.
Is hybrid working right for my business?
The pandemic forced many people into trialing home working for the first time. For some, it has increased productivity and well-being. For others, it has been a trying time with blurred lines between home and work.
A hybrid working model may be perceived as a way to achieve the best of both worlds. Wherein employees can attend the office when needed but also work remotely at times if suitable.
When deciding if hybrid working is right for your business, you’ll want to consider how it might affect the work that you need employees to do, as well as how they communicate and collaborate with each other.
Mental well-being of staff is another key factor here. Collecting data from your workforce on how they feel about returning to work, or a change in their working habits, can help to inform your decision making.
It’s worth noting that skipping this step can cause a disconnect and lead to a breakdown of trust. For example, just days after Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that all employees were expected to be back in the office by September (working some days remotely), a public response emerged from an internal employee group rejecting the plan and asking for a rethink.
Whilst the working model of your business is ultimately your decision, buy-in from employees is good for business. If you can’t please everyone, clear communication and explanation will help.
What are the pros and cons of hybrid working?
There are good and bad elements to a hybrid working model. You’ll want to weigh up the pros and cons when deciding if it can work for your business.
- Hybrid working may be fine for existing teams who know each other well, but integrating new workers can be a challenge when everyone is dispersed. Consider your inductions and how they may be affected.
- Gaps in communication can start to appear if there is no agreed plan for meetings. This can also impact collaboration and creativity. Homeworkers should physically attend a meeting or be dialed in to keep everyone in the loop.
- Your pre-COVID workspace, which already may have changed to become COVID-Secure, may need another overhaul to suit hybrid-working. Think fewer permanent desks, more collaboration spaces, and more than likely, increased access to technology. Can you make the switch?
- With employees coming and going at all sorts of times, it can be difficult to physically see if they are under pressure, either from work or personal circumstances.
- You may be able to save money by downsizing on your property. If employees will never all be there at the same time, do you need the same sized workplace that you did pre-pandemic?
- Flexibility in working style is a workplace benefit in high demand. It can be attractive to job seekers, improve job satisfaction and employee retention.
- It may increase productivity. When workers are given autonomy on their working location, they are more likely to be happier and thus more productive.
Help with going hybrid
If you want to make some changes to the way that your people work, give us a call. We’ll help you to navigate a shift to hybrid working that sees your business thrive.