Hybrid working is here, but is it really the future of work? The pandemic has, without doubt, challenged and changed the way in which organisations operate. It has sparked the biggest and fastest transformation of workplaces at a pace that we have never seen before.

It is clear that things are not going to return to the way they were before the pandemic and businesses are now looking toward a new future and a different way of working. 

With growing pressures from a Government keen to see employees working back in the workplace, could hybrid working be one of the answers?

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What is hybrid working?

We often hear the term “hybrid working” but what does that mean? Hybrid working is a type of flexible working where an employee splits their time between the workplace and remote working, where often the remote working will involve working from home.

According to research by the CIPD, more than half (51%) of employees say they have flexible working arrangements in their current role, with this number looking likely to increase. More than a third (37%) of organisations have seen an increase in flexible working requests and more than two-fifths of organisations (42%), say they are more likely to grant requests for flexible working, compared with before the pandemic.

Pre pandemic the average proportion of the workforce typically working from home on a regular basis was 19%, since the pandemic, this has risen to 44%!

The evolution of Hybrid working has involved a considerable shift in mindsets and cultural norms for organisations and their employees.

How to keep people connected

The more time people spend working from home, the more important it becomes to ensure we keep people feeling connected, not just in terms of work but also socially. Businesses need to look at ways in which they can engage with their teams, whether that is a weekly 1-2-1, team calls, or something that involves a group fitness session online; whatever works! 

Organisations need to ensure that no matter where they are, their teams feel supported, heard and able to achieve their goals and ambitions.

It is important to support the way employees choose to work, but there is something to be said for spending dedicated time together in a working environment, even if it is just one day a month. Face to face time gives people the opportunity to engage with their colleagues and share learnings and support. Working in the office doesn’t always need to be the default; there are plenty of other places people can meet!

How to maintain productivity

There is lots of research to suggest that people are just as productive working at home as they are working in the office and that productivity has continued to climb as employers embrace hybrid working. However, there won’t be a “one size, fits all” approach as it will depend on the organisation, and every organisation will need to develop their own practices. 

The ITV’s political editor, Robert Peston, highlighted a survey which identified that 85% of people believe they are as productive or more productive work from home.

How do you know if hybrid working will work in your business?

When looking at whether a hybrid working approach will work in your business, consult with your employees. Find out what solutions, wherever possible, meet your employees’ needs along with the needs of the business. 

Ask yourself some key questions: 

  • Is your infrastructure set up so that people can work from home? 
  • Do people have the right working environment to be based from home for some of their working week? 
  • Are there costs you could save by changing your office space? 
  • Do you really need that big office which is now potentially sitting empty for half of the week, or would you be better hiring meeting space when you want to get people together? 

These are some of the things you need to be thinking about and asking yourself and your team when looking at whether a hybrid working approach will work for you. 

The future of hybrid working

One of the things hybrid working has enabled people to do is to have a better work-life balance, enabling people who might be older, or have caring responsibilities to deliver in both aspects of their lives. People have often found that they were having to compromise on one of these elements.

Those businesses that no longer offer flexibility are likely to struggle to attract and retain staff, particularly with the current recruitment market and with nine out of 10 people wanting to have flexibility in their next job!

It is entirely plausible that employers and employees can get the best out of both worlds by having a hybrid working approach, but businesses will need to consider how best to implement it, to ensure it delivers what is required for both the business and its employees.

If you would like help with managing a flexible working request, supporting remote workers or updating your contracts of employment and handbook policies to reflect your new working practices, please get in touch and a member of our team will be happy to help you.