The Future is Hybrid

The future is Hybrid (and we’re not talking cars)

 

“Civil servants must stop working from home and return to the office to ensure government buildings are at full capacity, ministers have been told.”

“PwC hits back at Lord Sugar in ‘lazy gits’ row

 

The world of work has changed at breakneck speed over the past two years. As we all continue our return to a ‘new normality’, many organisations and employees are still feeling the after-effects of the pandemic. One of the hotly debated topics is hybrid working patterns and how it is shaping organisations moving forward.

Employees now EXPECT hybrid working

While the pandemic has accelerated the growing trend to give employees increased flexibility to work from different locations, many organisations are now operating in a fully hybrid state. Organisations are finding that they need to offer workers flexibility about when, where and how they work in order to be successful in attracting and retaining talent. In fact, a study conducted in May 2021 found that 83% of employees identified hybrid work models as being the optimal way of working in the future.

But what does this mean for organisations in terms of their culture, individual and team performance, development and progression, and most importantly for employee engagement, motivation and wellbeing?

Challenges of hybrid working

Remote working provides lots of benefits for both employees and organisations, however there are some key challenges to effective hybrid working.

  • Hybrid working has the potential to be emotionally draining for employees. Hybrid working requires greater energy, organisation and planning to constantly move between locations. Individuals must form new strategies to cope with two different routines, your home working routine and your office working routine.
  • Physically carrying work back-and-forth may also have a psychological impact on employees finding it difficult to establish boundaries between work and home, leaving employees with a feeling of being ‘always on’.
  • There is greater risk of digital presenteeism compared to fully remote jobs. If a hybrid model is set up without employers actively demonstrating trust in their workforce, this can potentially lead to overwork and burnout as employees feel pressure to show their employers they’re not taking advantage of home working
  • There is also a risk of reinforcing gender imbalances within the workplace between females who take on more care responsibilities than their male counterparts. If males who are able to work more frequently from the office or log longer hours online due to having less care responsibilities than their female peers, this may increase gaps within pay, promotion and progression opportunities.
  • Feeling of exclusion for predominantly remote based employees if a breakdown in communication happens between them and office-based colleagues.
  • Individuals who are able to work more frequently in the office may be more likely to be chosen for promotions, projects and other beneficial opportunities as they are seen to be more ‘present’ and may also inadvertently create cliques
  • All of the above also has the potential to negatively impact on organisational culture

If these challenges aren’t addressed they may lead employees to feel disengaged, unmotivated or dissatisfied leading them to look for better employment opportunities.

Why adopt hybrid working?

A recent white paper by the Division of Occupational Psychology, Psychological well-being at work, has shown that by giving employees a level of autonomy and freedom to choose when and where they work can enable them to; identify how they can maximise their own productivity, improve their work-life balance to increase wellbeing, as well as improve overall satisfaction at work.

How to make it a success

Here are some ways in which organisations can give employees the freedom and trust to work where they want, while still enabling productivity, engagement and motivation.

  • Hybrid can be successful when employees are involved in deciding their schedules and being able to tell employers what works best for them. This should be an open and honest discussion between employer and employees to ensure that individuals and teams are supported effectively
  • Employees can be further supported by more robust remote-working set-ups to help ease the psychological shift between office and home. Ensuring employees have the right tools and software at home will enable them to move more seamlessly between locations.
  • Encourage teams to have set days in the office: help teams to decide on a frequency that works for them all (say once a month or fortnightly) where everyone comes into the office for a face-to-face day.
  • Build days in the office around other, non-work-related activities: use things like a brown bag lunch (where employees share their expertise on different subjects, work or non-work related), sports, Q&As with leaders, a visit to the pub, give employees a reason to want to come in
  • Ensure managers regularly check in with workers who prefer to be predominantly remote based: more frequent, informal catch ups are a great way to keep individuals engaged and connected with the organisations.
  • Ensure all meetings are set up to support hybrid working. Making sure that employees who are working remotely aren’t excluded from face-to-face meetings will promote inclusivity
  • Create processes that ensure task/activity/project assignment is not based on who is in the office and able to put their hand up.
  • Providing training and development resources online and creating a hybrid process for reviewing and encouraging progression will help employees to manage/take ownership of their own development.

The END of 9 to 5?

Hybrid working has the potential to break the archaic ‘traditional’ 9 to 5 workday that has been dictated by employers for decades. Employers at the forefront of change who give the most freedom and flexibility to workers whilst ensuring the right support systems are in place to ensure effective working will be able to attract and retain the best talent.

Feel free to email kim.wakelam@the4oc.com with any comments or questions you have.