If there is one phrase you may be hearing more and more over the last year, I’d guess that it will be ‘hybrid working’, but despite all of the discussion, not everyone seems to agree on what this means exactly. This is BDM Voice’s guide to what it is, why it matters, and how your business can make it work.
Hybrid working has always existed, but its prevalence has been greatly increased by the pandemic. There isn’t a definitive definition, but at its core, it is an arrangement whereby an individual, team, customers, or clients divide their time between working at a work location or working remotely. As businesses around the country begin to open their doors to welcome staff back into the workplace, many are having to grapple with the prospect of hybrid working like never before. Businesses may be looking to save money and become more environmentally friendly by reducing the number of sites and locations they have, or meeting staff expectations to offer a more flexible home/office balance. This includes businesses such as Ford, Microsoft, Citigroup, and many large tech firms. Demonstrating a clear shift for the future of business.
The pandemic has fundamentally transformed the way we work, carry out business, and meet customer’s needs – basically everything then! This shift in the way we work has raised several new questions, such as, how can a business thrive when people are working from home, a remote workstation, or the workplace? And, how can a business ensure hybrid working works for everyone?
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has explored these questions himself and establishes there is now a ‘hybrid working paradox’. There is no definitive blueprint for how hybrid work should be, every business approach will have to be unique to them and their staff. According to research carried out by Microsoft, the vast majority of their employees are looking for more flexible work options, but at the same time are looking for more in-person collaboration, post-pandemic. Hence Satya dubbing this phenomenon the ‘hybrid work paradox’. This is common for many businesses looking at how to bring staff back post-pandemic. How will your business be addressing the ‘hybrid work paradox’?
However, it’s not only the expectations of staff that has fundamentally changed, customer expectations have too. Customers want to enjoy all of the conveniences brought in during the pandemic, along with the in-person experiences they have missed.
What’re the benefits and problems to avoid with hybrid working for your business? And how can you ensure your business thrives?
Hybrid working, in general, can offer a huge range of benefits for employers who embrace this way of operating. These benefits have been well established by now but here are the key benefits:
- Your employees want it, so offering it can help your business attract and keep a more diverse pool of good employees. And doing so publicly will boost your corporate image, clearly signalling that you have a flexible culture built on trust.
- Fewer people in the office means less space is needed, cutting down on bills, rent, and other associated costs.
- A hybrid solution can make employees feel happier, healthier, more productive, and more in control of their lives. Meaning they’re more likely to deliver.
However, while the benefits are clear, hybrid working isn’t always the ideal solution.
Here are some issues you may need to consider:
- Fairness – Can you offer a hybrid solution to everybody in the workplace? If you don’t think you could, what would the impact be?
- Collaboration and innovation – Collaboration technology has come on in leaps and bounds during the pandemic, meaning businesses have been able to work as a team over great distances. However, Zoom and MS Teams calls aren’t always the best forum for creativity and some tasks work better when people are grabbing a coffee rather than sat around a screen. Sometimes, new ideas pop up from an impromptu chat. These organic moments can be lost when people aren’t in the workplace together.
- Inequality – Not everyone has space for working at home or high-speed fibre broadband, for employees that may be flat sharing, for example, homeworking may not be productive at all. How will these teammates be supported to do their best work if they are expected to work from home for part of the week?
How to get hybrid working right for your business
What is clear with hybrid working is that it can’t just be left to chance, letting staff simply split their week between the office and home and hoping it will work its self out won’t work. It is important to ensure that a hybrid culture is created, in which:
- Leaders set the tone from the top that wherever you are working an employee’s input is valued.
- Managers are trained to support and communicate with employees; they don’t see daily.
- Employees are given the support they need to work well remotely, whether that be technological or financial.
- Management skill up on hybrid job design, deciding which roles should be done where, when and by whom.
Businesses have already begun finding a new way to tackle these issues, for example, in some workplaces all meetings take place using digital collaboration tools, such as Zoom and MS Teams so that those at home have equal representation to those in the workplace. It is important when using technology to facilitate a hybrid solution, the business and its employees will need to be utilising technology that is fit for purpose. For example, consumer headsets typically don’t deliver the best quality audio, while many laptops are known to have below-par cameras. Devices that are mobile, high quality, and effective to use are the best starting point.
There is a lot to think about, but if, as seems very likely, hybrid working is here to stay, it’s worth investing the money, time and training to get it right. BDM Voice can help, we utilise our years of experience and knowledge to help you build the perfect hybrid working solution for your business.
If you’d like to know more, please do get in touch via either the website, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0330 159 4000.