Before the pandemic, you probably would have been met with scratching heads if you had asked someone about implementing hybrid working. Now, it has become the expected working structure across almost every sector. Overnight, workers across the globe transformed their homes into offices, businesses developed new tools and software, and the world embraced a new way of working.
But many had not expected this to be a long-term trend, and while there are many benefits to your team working from home, it poses its own challenges. While working from home can make teams more productive, some may miss the buzz and collaboration of the office. The PwC Hopes and Fears survey found that 77% of UK employees want a mix of face-to-face and remote working.
Implementing hybrid working into your business does not have a one-size-fits-all solution; every business and its people are different and needs an individual structure. Here are some ways that your business can embrace hybrid working to keep your team happy and your business productive.
What is hybrid working?
Let’s start with the basics. Hybrid working can take many forms, and it’s down to the business to decide what works best for its team. An experiment run by Harvard Business School found that the sweet spot for most seems to live in a balanced approach, translating to one or two days a week in the office. The authors of the study noted, “where workers enjoy flexibility and yet are not as isolated compared to peers who are predominantly working from home.”
Generally, hybrid working takes one of three structures:
Flexible working: Those who were able to work remotely during the pandemic can choose between working from home and in the office, mainly returning to attend meetings, events or training.
Office focussed: This mainly concerns job roles that require face-to-face customer interaction. Team members will mainly be in the office full time, with exceptions made on either an individual or team basis.
Partly remote: This is where some teams are fully remote, whilst some are office-based, depending on the demands and needs of the job role.
What are the benefits of hybrid working?
Embracing hybrid working can do wonders for your business, with ONS finding that it improved employee wellbeing by 59.6%.
- The previously elusive work/life balance is much easier to attain with hybrid working, with 78% of workers citing this as one of the top benefits of hybrid working. Plus, those with extra commitments and responsibilities outside of work will be able to balance these much more effectively while working remotely.
- Having time away from the buzz of the office allows employees the space to do deep work, with 52% of hybrid workers saying they found it quicker to complete their work at home and focus.
- Hybrid working creates dedicated time for collaboration, meaning that there is purpose connected to coming into the office. And the extra excitement of seeing team members helps to boost morale and motivation.
- Businesses may not need such big workspaces if employees are coming in on different days. Downsizing can save you lots of money in overheads. Instead, think about renting smaller office spaces, buying your team coworking desks or hiring out meeting rooms for meetings. Plus X Innovation is set up to suit the flexible needs of hybrid working. You can take a look at our full offering here.
- Offering hybrid working has now become an expectation amongst employees; more than half of UK workers would consider leaving their job if hybrid working was removed from their place of work. Make sure you promote your hybrid options when hiring, as it can attract top talent from further afield.
What are the challenges of hybrid working?
Hybrid working does not come without its challenges, however, and requires strategy and communication to succeed. Here are some of the things to bare in mind when setting up your structure:
- Embedding your company culture and trust can be tricky when your team aren’t in the same place, especially when it comes to new hires.
- A lot of time can be wasted, and frustration can happen if you haven’t prepared correctly. Beforehand, make sure that you have all of the right technology and tools ready and raring to go so that your team can get to work straight away.
- On the days that you bring your team in, make sure that those days are useful and not just for the sake of it.
- Hybrid working has highlighted some inequalities within the workforce, with the highest earners being the most likely to be able to work from home. Not everyone has the space to work from home, or their job may require them to work face-to-face with customers. Make sure you are compassionate to make reasonable adjustments as and when they’re needed. A good way to tackle this is by making hybrid working an option rather than a rule - hybrid working doesn’t suit everyone!
- Hybrid working also doesn’t suit all business types. It’s mainly knowledge-based work and sectors that are able to adopt this structure. Have a think about the practicalities of how this may impact your business.
How to implement hybrid working:
Hybrid working is not an overnight success; it takes planning, preparation and ongoing maintenance to work. Here are some tips to try when implementing hybrid working into your business:
- Take a temp check. Survey your employees to see what their needs and concerns are, but also keep in mind what’s right for your business.
- Plan for the challenges that may arise from the model you choose. What tools and software can you integrate into your processes? Will you need to provide laptops? Preparing for this in advance will save time and discontent further down the line.
- Have a think about some creative ways that you can bring your team together and how you can ensure that the company culture is felt throughout your team.
- Make sure that you review your structure regularly; unexpected challenges can arise amongst your team that they may not have anticipated.
- Foster a sense of open communication and trust between you and your team. Hybrid working cn feel lonely at times, and your team need to feel like they can come to you with any issues they might have.
How to ask for hybrid working
If you’re an employee wondering how to ask your boss to start hybrid working, here are some things to think about before you approach them:
- Go in with the facts; find out what the benefits are when implementing hybrid working and show these to your boss.
- If you think it should be a company-wide change, get support from your colleagues in advance.
- If your boss isn’t sure, ask them for a trial period to test it out before committing entirely.
- Ensure that you’re communicating to your line manager or boss that you’re being productive, as concerns around productivity are one of the main reasons some businesses are adverse to hybrid working.
- Be aware that it may not work out. Every business is different, and if it turns out hybrid working does not meet the needs of the business, it may require a return to the office.
Content + Social Media Manager at Plus X Innovation.