Many of us have found our working patterns disrupted over the past few months. Some of us are still unable to attend the office, while others are cautiously finding their feet with scheduled visits, abiding by the newfound safety requirements in place. Since March 2020, our global working culture has taken a radical turn that organisations can no longer ignore. As national lockdowns become a distant memory, it will no longer be mandatory to work from home. Organisations will have three options: go back to a full-time office-based culture; continue to work-from-home; or introduce Hybrid Working.
What is Hybrid Working?
Whilst we are all familiar with the first two options, the latter is a new trend. It’s a fresh approach to working that allows employees to not only work from either their home or office environments, but to work from either, or from anywhere.
Work has left the building
According to recent research conducted by YouGov, prior to the COVID-crisis 68% of British employees had never worked from home. Fast forward to now and nearly one in five, given the opportunity, would choose to work from home full time. Employees are increasingly seeing the office as a place to meet and socially interact, rather than a place to work. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella even refers to a Hybrid Paradox: people want to be able to work from anywhere yet crave more in-person communication.
Figure 1: Why do Microsoft employees want to work from home or in-person
How to deal with the desire of employees wanting to follow a Hybrid Working routine?
This Hybrid Working trend has introduced many new leadership and ‘remote leadership’ challenges. Now more than ever, the key to a successful employer-employee relationship lies in mutual trust. The past few months have forced many people to adapt their routines and working patterns, and at this stage, we know what we can achieve from our home office. Employees have experienced lower travel costs, both economically and socially, and are enjoying their rediscovered time with their loved ones. This has led to many employees preferring to work from home or adapt to a Hybrid Working routine.
Start by listening to your people. Avoid asking how many hours your employees wish or do not wish to be present at the office. Instead, try to focus on qualitative information. It might be worth conducting internal research to find the motives behind an individual’s desire to work from home. Try to create an ideal Hybrid Working environment that works for your employees and for yourself.
How can you create an ideal Hybrid Working environment?
1. Offer flexibility
Organisations have often chosen busy business hubs to situate their head offices to ensure an easier commute for employees and provide a bigger “pull” for industry-specific talent. Hybrid Working offers the opportunity for employees to choose their geographical location when working whilst giving employers the chance to attract talent from a wider range of locations. A flexibility win for all.
This freedom gives employees the opportunity to create a healthier work-life balance. For example, parents can now plan their workload in a way that allows them to collect the children from school, arrive back home, and continue where they left off. It has become easier to combine both work and private goals because of this flexibility. However, implement core working hours to make sure there is still a time during which most employees are available for collaboration.
2. Autonomy and trust
Give your employees the autonomy and trust they need. By allowing people to plan their own day, you give them the opportunity to work at that individual’s peak performance/optimum times. Therefore, you are shifting the focus from the number of hours present at the office to a result-based culture. By allowing your employees to step away from the computer when they feel necessary (e.g., to go for a short walk) they will log on after office hours when they feel more productive
3. Find new ways to meet in person
The graphic above demonstrates and confirms that the main reasons employees may choose to work in the office are the benefits of social interaction and collaboration. I think we have all missed the watercooler chats and spontaneous banter of the office. This doesn’t need to be sacrificed because we are attending the office less frequently. Organise new ways for your people to connect in person. Try team-building activities or casual lunches to get people together and allow people to attend industry-related events together. Not only will this boost motivation, but it is also an opportunity to forge friendships. Research shows that having close relationships with colleagues will enable them to work better together and build a stronger team spirit, which will result in higher productivity rates.
That said, don’t forget to catch up with your team members virtually as well. Host weekly catchups or one-to-one sessions to check in with everyone if you don’t get the chance to see them in person.
4. Improve the Employee Experience
The employee experience is as important for small organisations as it is for big enterprises, because it ensures that everyone remains productive and committed to the organisation. It will take time to fully adapt to the new world after the pandemic, however, many organisations are considering digitalisation and digital transformation as a crucial step in the right direction. A Digital Workplace ensures the deployment of user-friendly tools to enable smooth communication and collaboration. If you haven’t embarked yet on a journey towards digital transformation, now is the time.
Old legacy systems can be slow and frustrating to use and can lead to unmotivated and unproductive employees. By deploying a well-functioning Digital Workplace, you can start building a positive employee experience. For example, through the means of an Intranet, your employees will be able to find everything they need in one place, collaborating in real-time. Put people at the heart of your hybrid strategy.
Intelogy has a practice dedicated to Teamwork and Employee Experience. We can work closely with you and your organisation to identify the behavioural shifts that are needed to bring about lasting change, acting as a bridge between the technology, your business and your employees. Our Teamwork & Employee Experience practice delivers advanced collaboration and communication solutions that will empower you to take the best approach to deliver success in your organisation.
A successful Hybrid Working environment needs a culture of flexibility and trust, backed by an enhanced employee experience. Create a new hybrid organisational culture that supports your people wherever they are. Hybrid can mean different things for every organisation and it’s up to you to determine how Hybrid Working will look like in your organisation. We would love to share our experience with you and help you take the first steps towards Hybrid Working in a secure manner. We always keep in mind that people are the central piece to every digital transformation journey. We can help you ensure everyone feels connected and informed while digitising and automating your processes.