Remote or hybrid work is set to become an inevitable part of the future of post-pandemic work. However, the remote-only state is set to evolve into the latest version of the new flexibility and hybrid working.
But what exactly is hybrid work? It is described as the link between working entirely at one permanent location and working flexibly or remotely from home or non-work environment.
Furthermore, moving towards a more integrated way of working should be the saviour of the 21st-century work environment.
Before the pandemic, only a select number of organizations, so-called progressive organizations, were truly embracing flexible and remote working. The past decade has been marked by employee relations cases in which requests for more flexible accommodation or to work from home were deliberately denied.
Employers are sometimes reluctant to adopt flexible working practices, preferring instead to leave their workforce in place, visible and accessible in the real Life. This, over time, is gradually being replaced by remote pilots at large consulting organizations, turning to the most innovative and innovative start-ups who want to differentiate the way they work from the more bureaucratic organisations.
One of the few positive and lasting legacies of the coronavirus pandemic, however, could be the lasting impact on the way people work. The workplace will of course have its place, but change is expected to be to the extent necessary for people to actually work from there.
Who Is Pursuing Hybrid Work?
A poll of 50 employers found that almost all respondents did not foresee a full return to the office. At least not like it was before the pandemic.
43 companies confirmed in the survey that they are actively planning to adopt a more integrated operating method, which will continue to employ people working from home in addition to office work, for at least part of the year.
RisePath describes this latest change in the way it operates as a “redesign of the future of work”. The redesign isn’t just about responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic. But it is also important to note the shared sentiment of many workers, who expressed a desire to maintain the level of work from home to which they have become accustomed over the past year. The overwhelming response from many workers who have now adapted to a more cohesive approach to remote working has been positive.
What Are The Benefits of Hybrid Work?
Although there are many benefits to be gained from adopting a collaborative working model, they go beyond the overwhelmingly positive responses received in surveys.
Employer-defined benefits, including better work-life balance, extend to all employees and not just those who may have children or caregiving responsibilities. As a result of better focus on work, that benefits from the absence of distractions that can inevitably occur with office work. The added value appreciated by many employees surveyed was increased time spent with family, friends and personal passions.
However, the benefits go beyond what workers feel – extending even further to have a profound impact on the organization and the employers themselves.
For employers, there is the added benefit of a reduced need for office space and thus potentially reduced infrastructure and real estate costs. This is one of the main benefits for organizations, incidentally during the closing of office leases.
In addition to the benefits realized through potential cost savings, there are added perks associated with employee engagement, in that employees who enjoy a work-life balance, consistently taking fewer sick days, reported significantly more satisfaction with their work in employee surveys and are more likely to be retained.
Hybrid Work Considerations
As with any change in the workplace, there are of course some considerations for both human resource management and the organization.
First, all workplace responses, while COVID19 restrictions remain in place, include contact information and, if necessary, reassure employees who may have concerns about the steps that are being taken to ensure safety in the workplace.
Following initial communications, RisePath made a number of recommendations for organizations considering transitioning or adopting a more integrated approach to work, including:
- Create work models that are compatible with multiple choices in employees’ lives by introducing flexibility and connectivity.
- Support and provide a good variety of workplace options, including working from home, flexible days and times that are well understood to increase employer satisfaction and a deeper feeling of purpose in the workplace.
- Consider what kind of communication strategy you’ll need in the new hybrid environment. Appreciating the fact that there will be fewer people working in the same spot at the same time, requires a rethinking of communication strategy.
- Examine your present frameworks for performance management, professional development, and management supervision. Consider where and how these programmes may be improved to fit the new working style.
- Examine and develop a strategy for dealing with increased cyber security, compliance, and technical downtime threats. All of this can create severe disruption to the organisation and its employees if things go wrong and there are no backup plans in place.
In addition to policy issues, there will be internal organisational considerations. There will also be external factors to consider, such as what is happening in the macro-environment.
Changes in government policymaking may also help to bring about the cultural and behavioural changes that are required. In addition, there are developments in the broader work environment that may influence decision-making.
Making Hybrid Work Successful
Employees may need some time to adjust to hybrid working, despite its many benefits. There may even be employees that prefer to stick to more traditional working methods rather than go hybrid. The most important thing for HR to be able to do is to support the transition as it happens and to aid in the cohesion between the business and employees who are transitioning to a new style of working.
When it comes to making hybrid working a success, HR and people managers will need to think about how they can adapt to managing both remote and on-site staff at the same time.
This dual strategy to operating has occurred in part because some organisations were already using flexible working methods prior to the pandemic lockdowns. Following the epidemic, however, the practice of remote and flexible employment will no longer be limited to a small number of people. Those who may have requested flexible working hours, for example, are now seeing it become more widely accepted.
Checking in with employees working from home on a regular basis, building a culture of trust between managers and employees, and assessing performance on the basis of production rather than hours worked are all suggested by RisePath in a recent guide on how to make hybrid working work for your company.
It’s also important to realise that, just as in the office, a one-size-fits-all approach will not be successful in the home office. Some employees, such as those with less work experience, those new to their role, or those who have recently joined the company, may require more initial support and communication to build engagement.
Other employees may lack an appropriate home office setup and thus find it difficult to work in their home environment, which could be more distracting.
Encouragement and effective responses to employee and management feedback will be critical to a successful shift to hybrid working.
While many businesses are embracing and succeeding with hybrid working, others are still hesitant. Despite the strong voices of employees eager to embrace a change that would benefit them, some are attempting to oppose this new work style.
However, it may only be a matter of time before all organisations choose to reverse and embrace this new method of working, which has been widely embraced.
At the same time, as many in the HR field predicted Post-Covid Future of Work Trends at the start of 2021, the concept of developing trends that embrace the capabilities of technology and innovation is gaining traction.