Welcome to the New World of Work – Hybrid Working

Business Insights

Everyone is talking about it, but what exactly is hybrid working and will it work for my organisation?

Hybrid working is a type of flexible working where an employee splits their time between the workplace and working remotely.

As an employer, you might be reviewing temporary arrangements made during the coronavirus pandemic or an employee might have asked you about it. Hybrid working can balance the benefits of working remotely (for example, working from home) and from the workplace. It can help:

  • increase productivity and job satisfaction

  • attract and retain a more diverse workforce

  • improve trust and working relationships

But will it work in your organisation? The answer is “it depends”. It depends on your organisation, your strategy, and the nature of the work, tasks and individuals involved.

If you’ve not yet decided whether your organisation will adopt hybrid working, fear not. Recent research by McKinsey (2021) found that 40% of employees have yet to hear a vision for post-Covid working and a further 28% say that what they have heard remains vague. That’s 68% of the working population who are unclear on how they will be carrying out their roles in the future.

Deciding on future working arrangements is complex. For every employee desperate to continue working remotely there is another impatient to get back to the workplace. Not everyone wants, or will be productive, happy or effective with the same solution.

It’s not just about “days in the office”. Here are some of the component elements of hybrid:

  • Location: home, office or mobile? Fixed office, permanent shared hot desks, no permanent office hub?

  • Working Pattern: full-time remote or office, part-time remote or office? Different roles, whole teams or whole organisation in the office on the same / different days? Fixed, scheduled or complete flexibility?

  • Timeframe: working patterns considered over a working week, month or year?

  • Interaction with Others: does the role require interaction with others in real time? Or do they complete tasks and respond within the hours of their own work day, which may be different to those of colleagues?

But how do you decide?

    1. Start with asking the right question. What problem are you trying to solve?

    2. Ensure your hybrid approach supports your strategic priorities.

    3. Learn from those who have already done it and gather supporting data.

    4. Don’t create the answer in a vacuum – involve your people and key stakeholders.

    5. Generate options. Don’t just think about where people are going to work, but also think about when and how.

    6. Agree decision making criteria so each option can be considered objectively. Think about the needs of the organisation (e.g. financial, office space, technology, environmental impact, customer experience), the team (e.g. communication, collaboration) and the individual (e.g. preference, wellbeing, productivity).

    7. Evaluate the options and identify any consequences. Test the final solution you’re planning to implement with different stakeholders.

    8. Support your managers to support their teams – hybrid will be different, and they will need to learn and develop new skills, techniques and approaches.

    9. Set-up a pilot to test your solution in ‘real life’ before rolling out in full.

    10. Review and communicate.

Hybrid working has many upsides, but these have to be balanced with the possible challenges.

Once the decision has been made, as always, communication is at the heart of making hybrid working a success. Some key questions to consider are:

  • Do your employees feel confident in a hybrid setting and do they have the resources they need to succeed? What support do they need from their manager?

  • Is their home environment suitable for hybrid working and have you completed the necessary risk assessments?

  • How will you keep in contact and keep everyone included in what’s going on?

  • How can they raise any concerns and stay in touch?

Hybrid working has to be based on a relationship founded on trust and openness. Fairness, collaboration and effective communication will help to maintain a cohesive team, but this doesn’t happen by magic and needs to be worked at, for example by adopting a structured approach to team meetings and regular one-to-ones. Make time to treat everyone as an individual, show you care by taking an interest in what’s happening outside of work and make time for them.

If you need a sounding board to go through all this with, then we’re all ears. It can be a lot to try to navigate, especially if you’re making those decisions on your own. Get the affirmation you need when making these big decisions by sitting down with us and going through your Hybrid Working plan. Contact us via email, website or call us on 0203 667 7270.

By Adam Davey, Director Petaurum HR