Firstly, what exactly is hybrid working? Hybrid working enables employees to work from alternative locations outside of the traditional office, for example, from home at times when it suits them and their team’s needs. It isn’t a new concept, but it is an approach the majority of the world have adopted for office-based roles since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pre pandemic, it was common for businesses to work entirely from a set place of work such as the company’s office. If an employee wished to work from an alternative location, this would have been considered under flexible working legislation. The pandemic has transformed the way people work and how leadership teams think, as companies realise this is a viable option to adopt even in the post pandemic world.
What are the benefits of hybrid working?
Benefits for employees
Arguably the biggest benefit of hybrid working is a better work life balance for employees. On average, an employee commutes for 59 minutes each day (research carried out by TUC).
Working from home or other alternative locations gives the employee extra time back in their day and this in itself can have a huge benefit to employee wellbeing.
You may have also noticed that your employees may have been flexing their working hours. This is another element of hybrid working that is attractive to workers.
Needing to take children to school? Have an appointment across town? Feeling slightly under the weather? With hybrid working your employees can work when it suits them, ensuring better quality of work in the first instance.
Lynn Houmdi, of The Talent Loom, a collaborative platform to help people make work work, says, “It goes without saying that employees who are happy and well are more productive. Staff who feel a level of trust and autonomy to get the job done around their other commitments are more motivated and less stressed by the work-life juggle.”Lynn Houmdi, Talent Loom
Benefits for employers
From an employer’s perspective, we have spoken to companies who have downsized their office spaces meaning extensive cost savings on rent, utility bills etc.
Other clients we support have implemented various forms of hybrid working and our own parent company AAB were one of the first companies in Scotland to formally commit to hybrid working for all staff, embedding this in contracts enabling them to work in a blended way between working from home, working from any of the AAB offices or from anywhere else. https://scottishbusinessnews.net/aab-commits-to-hybrid-working-for-all-staff/ – Graeme Allan, Chief Executive said:
“I am immensely proud that we are one of the first to formally implement hybrid working across our business and hope it paves the way for more to follow, as we continue adapting to a new working world.
“Pre-pandemic we already had a flexible working culture, however we continually strive to make improvements and enhance our awesome client experience, as well as the working environment for our talented team.Graeme Allan, CEO
The pandemic has changed the expectations of employees and candidates in terms of flexibility. In times of competitive job markets and challenging recruitment climates, the offer of hybrid and flexible work policies is an attractive benefit and can not only attract more applications, but also widens the talent pool further than those within commuting distance of the office.
What challenges can hybrid working pose, and how to overcome them?
It is essential to be open, honest and approachable to your employees. Finding new ways to manage your team and allowing them to work autonomously can be a challenging concept for managers who have never had to deal with remote working before.
Finding communication tools that work for you are important. Examples include WhatsApp group chats, MS Teams, Slack, all company emails etc. Managers should also ensure they are having regular check-ins with individual employees to ensure they still feel supported and are clear of objectives and expectations.
Previously, it was easy to see if someone was available as they were sat at their desk. However, this was not proof of productivity. With hybrid working, dissemination of ‘digital etiquette’ expectations, such as sharing calendars and regularly updating statuses and email signatures will help team members adjust to colleagues’ working patterns and minimise frustrations if someone cannot be reached instantly.
Our client, Computer Application Services (CAS) Ltd a software development and consultancy business, have adopted a hybrid first approach to working. Chris Ellis, Chief Technical Officer states the following:
“The CAS Team have embraced remote working – it’s popular and today’s technology means we can work efficiently together when at an alternative location. Our current challenge is finding ways to help the team do some of the things that people do better in the same location, like bringing on new starts or training. That might be by doing those things back in the office, or taking advantage of some of the other ideas people have come up with for socialising and working together.Chris Ellis, CTO
Although your employees may be working remotely, it is still essential to maintain a ‘team ethic’ and dedicate time for team building and sharing throughout the working week. This can include weekly meetings where everyone gets together (virtually or in person where possible) and talks socially rather than on work topics. This is beneficial for new recruits who may not have met their colleagues ‘face to face’ during the pandemic. Lynn Houmdi, again, notes:
“It is really important to consider how to create an open, supportive culture when team members are working in different locations. It is not enough to simply move all pre-pandemic working practices online. Leaders and managers need to consider the best tools for the job – especially when it comes to communication and team cohesion – and work intentionally to ensure good practice is maintained and everyone feels included.”Lynn Houmdi
Training and Development
If employees are working remotely, it may be difficult for managers to ensure training & development remains a priority. Although there are plenty of online and in person formal training courses that may benefit your team, informal training can still be effective.
This may be things like encouraging employees to share ‘case studies’ of what they have been working on, or to reflect on successes and difficulties so everyone gets exposure to challenges they may not have faced before. It may also be necessary to train managers to confidently manage distributed teams and share their experience with their peers.
How can you implement Hybrid Working?
We believe a hybrid working policy is essential for many businesses moving forward, but it is a transformational project. We can help facilitate discussion and consultation with your managers and employees to help understand needs and preferences and design bespoke tailored working practices, and provide you if needed with a detailed hybrid working policy where you can outline your expectations of employees while hybrid working. We can also provide numerous training packages to give your managers and leaders the necessary skills to manage and engage with teams remotely.
We’ll also be referencing our own experience, as the AAB Group have adopted a hybrid working policy.
Thank you to our guest contributor Lynn for joining the discussion in this blog. Under her brand, The Talent Loom, Lynn Houmdi runs collaborations designed to help people make work work. She has co-created and co-delivers Making Work Work – for Women Returners with The Challenges Group, and founded the Flexible Working Scotland community.
Further Information and Support
Purpose HR support our clients with policy development, change projects and HR/workplace advice. If you would like any practical guidance, a review of your current policy or approach or a copy of our Employer Guidance, please get in touch with our HR team firstname.lastname@example.org