Before the COVID pandemic, “flexible working” was slowly taking workplaces by storm.
But then the pandemic happened. Remote work became the norm and employees acquired a taste for the flexibility it offered. This gave rise to the theory of hybrid working, which is offering even more flexibility for many.
But what exactly is hybrid working? How does hybrid work present in the workplace? And how should employers go about implementing a hybrid policy?
In this article, we will look to answer these questions and more.
What does hybrid work actually mean?
Although there isn’t a clear-cut definition, hybrid working refers to a blend of office and remote work, with the individual worker and organisation being the people who decide how to split time.
There are a variety of hybrid strategies that businesses can implement to reflect their best working practices and the needs of their employees. As with most things in the workplace, there are no one-size-fits-all approaches when it comes to hybrid working, so businesses have plenty of options, including:
If a hybrid company adopts an office-first approach, they’re essentially saying that the office is the dominant workplace. This office first work may be supplemented by a proportion of remote working.
A remote-first hybrid strategy typically means that remote work will be the primary working option for staff. Again, the remote working may be supplemented by a proportion of office work.
The 3-2 hybrid model refers to businesses that require their employees to spend three days in the office and two days at home (or vice versa). This option is ideal for businesses that regard team-bonding and collaboration as prominent parts of their company culture.
Hybrid companies may designate specific office days. These may be few and far between and can be used to accommodate collaboration sessions or team-building exercises.
Designated work-from-home days
This hybrid work strategy allows employers to allocate days where it’s fine for employees to work from home. This could be on a quiet day where there are no team meetings or collaboration sessions.
What are the benefits of a using a hybrid workplace setup?
There are many benefits to using hybrid working. These include:
Increased employee productivity
The COVID pandemic proved that remote working doesn’t come at the expense of productivity and ins some cases productivity increased. Employees in a hybrid workplace can manage their time better. They can choose to work at times when they are more alert and are often find it easier to concentrate without the noise of the traditional office.
Better diversity and Inclusion
Flexible working policies can help improve diversity and inclusion. Remote working has opened up more opportunities for those routinely excluded from the workforce or denied flexibility. These could be working mothers, employees with disabilities and those with economic limitations.
Better employee wellbeing
If employees can spend more time with their families, save more money and choose the workplace that’ll encourage their best work, it’s no surprise that they are likely to be happier to work for a company.
Blended working means that employees can structure their day so it fits in with their schedule. Whether that’s nipping to a doctor’s appointment or collecting children from school, blended working allows employees to create a healthier work/life balance.
As more businesses are keen to decrease their office footprint, hybrid working can be more cost-effective. Office rent is the one of the highest fixed costs for most companies and any reduction is often welcome.
What are the disadvantages of a hybrid work setup?
As is often the case with everything in the workplace, there are a few disadvantages to hybrid work too. These include:
Increased reliance on technology
While hybrid work and working from-home strategies come a greater reliance on technology. Staying connected to employees while giving them the tools to fulfill their work commitments may require a lot of electronic gadgetry which is often expensive.
Employees can perceive ‘presence bias’
Presence bias is where the staff working remotely perceive a bias towards staff members who are working in the office. This can lead to claims of discrimination and a reduction in productivity.
Hybrid working can cause higher levels of burnout, especially if the employee has a difficult time maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
Remote working can have a significant impact on employee mental well-being due to a lack of social interaction or work/life boundaries becoming blurred.
This issue may also be related to “presence bias”, as remote employees feel they have to work additional hours or overcommit to show that they are productive.
How to implement a hybrid working policy
There are plenty of ways for businesses to implement a hybrid working policy. Here is a quick overview of how it can be done:
Don’t be afraid to ask staff what they want. Discuss how they feel about hybrid work and explain what you want as a business.
Once you have an idea of what your staff want it’s important that you outline a few non-negotiables that you need to have in your hybrid work policy. These are essentially the rules and expectations you’ll set around how much flexibility your employees can have at work. This way the employee will know exactly what you expect and won’t see remote work as a chance to slack off.
Have a trial run
Don’t be afraid to test your hybrid policy. Try it with a small team or for a limited period of time. Judge how staff react to the new way of working and tweak your hybrid work policy accordingly.
Implement the policy
Once you are happy with the way your hybrid policy looks, roll it out. How you do this will be up to you and based on the needs of your business. It may be that you only offer hybrid working to a small number of staff or you may offer it to everyone. You may even try to force implementation across the entire workforce.
Just remember, any changes to staff working patterns will need to be reflected in contracts of employment which will require employee consent.
Hybrid work is the new buzzword in the workplace, and we hope that with a little help from this guide you now understand it better.
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