During lockdown, many businesses discovered that homeworking was good for both them and their employees. However, after a few months contemplating the practicalities of making this a permanent arrangement, most have now concluded that a mixture of remote and office-based working is the best solution ...
Welcome to the world of hybrid working - a flexible approach combining the workplace and remote working. Google Trends shows interest in 'hybrid working' rising steadily over the last 12 months as people anticipated the government's roadmap out of lockdown.
After more than a year of managing remote teams, employers are starting to rethink their definition of the 'workplace'. They are now asking themselves how they would like to manage their workforce in the future. The key word is 'flexibility'. The number of days employees work from home or another remote site will depend on the needs of your business. This is not the same as flexible working where employees can vary their working hours; the focus is on where, rather than when they work.
While the pandemic forced many businesses to use a remote working model for the first time, some have found that productivity and wellbeing improved, while for others, merging of home and work life was harder to manage or simply impractical.
The decision about hybrid working for your business will depend on how it might affect the ability of your employees to do their jobs, as well as how they communicate and collaborate with each other. Wellbeing of staff is another consideration, so asking your team members how they feel about returning to work, or a change in their working habits, is an important step.
Even the largest corporations have made mistakes here. When Apple Chief Executive Officer, Tim Cook, announced that all employees would be expected back in the office by September with some remote working, an employee group quickly challenged the decision. They argued that they had performed effectively while working remotely and should have the option to continue. However, Mr Cook is determined, saying: "... there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other!"
If implemented thoughtfully and in collaboration with employees, hybrid working can be successfully introduced. There are, of course, good and bad aspects to this type of working.
- collaboration - at this early stage, many people who have been working remotely know their team members well. However, for new employees, joining a remote team could be challenging.
- communication - mis-communication can happen easily enough in face-to-face encounters at work. When meetings and planning sessions take place remotely, or with some people on-site and others joining via videoconferencing, some new skills will be needed to keep everything running smoothly.
- physical workspace - surroundings might need to be redesigned to suit a hybrid working model, with fewer permanent desks, more collaboration spaces, and more sophisticated technology and security.
- contact - some rigorous HR practices will be needed to make sure that employees continue to feel part of a collaborative team and that any concerns or issues are properly addressed.
- space requirements - with fewer people on-site at any one time, you could down-size and reduce your costs.
- flexibility - with a new flexible mindset and recognition of the importance of the home-work balance you could attract new talent, improve job satisfaction, and employee retention.
- productivity - when your employees have more autonomy their confidence to make decisions independently will increase and they will become more productive.
At Bucks Biz, we have more than 30 years' experience of working flexibly. We understand that business needs change and we have a talented team of professionals who can create a solution tailored to your needs. Whatever your workplace requirements, now and in the future, we're here to help.
Find the solution to your hybrid working requirements with Bucks Biz.