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The pandemic has changed the way we work. Due to restrictions many of us have been confined to our homes, meaning the way in which we work has evolved. Whilst levels of normality have returned, many employers are continuing to harness a new way of remote working which has encouraged an improved work life balance.
What is hybrid working?
Remote working has always been a concept. However, its prevalence was amplified by the pandemic as many were forced to abandon their offices. As the months progressed it became apparent to many employers that there were benefits of working from home – and generally increasing employee flexibility – that was extremely beneficial to happiness and productivity levels.
Difficult to define, hybrid working can appear differently for businesses and the employees within them. Whilst some offer blanket working from home rules for entire teams or departments, some companies allow complete flexibility at an individual level.
Hybrid working refers to the juggling act between remote working and office working. For some it may be 75% remote, whereas others many do mornings in the office and afternoons at home. There is no set structure to hybrid working. However, the most common is a 50/50 split between the home and the office.
There are obvious perks of working from home, both for the employee and the business. But it is important to recognise the downsides too, as well as how to create a solution. Below, we shine a light on the benefits and challenges of hybrid working and why it is set to become the norm for the future.
The benefits of adopting a hybrid working model
Focus on employee well being
Remote working during the pandemic gave employees a taste of the working from home life. So many found an improvement in their work life balance that a hybrid working model was adopted by the business. Working from home, whether full or part time, has become the norm. Many members of staff have highlighted prioritising their wellbeing and family as a major perk. Employers have noticed a reduction in the number of sick days and a boost in morale overall.
Having a workforce that work remotely most of the time saves on utilities and general office building costs. Many companies have moved premises to a smaller unit, introducing hot desking and paying much less in rent compared to previous larger spaces.
For the individual, a reduction in travel costs is a huge saving. Weekly fuel expenses and public transport season tickets are no longer needed, particularly for those who spend over half their work hours at home. Furthermore, for those who were daily takeaway coffee addicts or enjoyed a lunch out, this saving could be huge!
Productivity over behaviour
With the typical working model, the way in which senior staff measure performance is by assessing who is quietly beavering away at their desk. However, we all know that being seated doesn’t mean you’re working effectively – it’s easy to look busy!
Behaviour should not dictate how productive a worker is. Remote working removes the physical element, meaning performance indicators boil down to delivery times and results. Understandably, this is how all work should be monitored, but the inhouse environment has dictated that ‘people in their seats’ are an indicator of productivity. Hybrid working means that productivity is based on results rather than behaviours which provides managers with a much clearer picture of output.
Expand the talent pool
With hybrid work models the potential to alter hiring criteria is there for the taking. Job descriptions with remote working as an offering can attract talented employees from far and wide which would not be possible without hybrid working. This also means employers can open roles to candidates who require flexibility, such as those who need altered hours due to childcare or other commitments. Companies can benefit from hiring the best talent and provide new starters with the chance to make their own working hours – a perk that boosts staff retention.
The downsides of hybrid working and how to solve them
Transitioning between remote and office work
Hybrid working doesn’t suit everyone. Those with children may find working in the office is the best solution with zero distractions. Many workers find it hard to seamlessly flip between working from home and working from the office. Others prefer the social aspect of office life.
Whilst hybrid working is a personal choice there are some industries that simply don’t suit this new way of working. In some cases, such as those which are client facing or require offsite work, the hybrid model can be a hinderance.
To combat this, many companies offer hybrid work on an individual basis. This means it is up to the worker to decide what best suits their needs and that of their role within the company. Many businesses are making sure employees have the correct tools to facilitate hybrid working should they ever choose to change how they currently work.
Lack of home office
Remote workers without a dedicated working space have cited this as a reason to return to the office full time. It can be frustrating working from home if you don’t have a quiet space or any home office essentials to keep you on track. Trying to remain focused and lack of personal work organisation have hindered productivity levels for some employees.
Organisation at home isn’t easy, especially when you don’t have a home office. Fortunately, Leitz have a range of office storage and desk storage tools to make hybrid working much easier.
For many, a splash of colour can really help keep a tired mind energised when working from home. The Leitz WOW range gives workers the option to introduce bold coloured storage, organisation and home office tools into their space. From staplers and hole punches to draw cabinets and storage boxes, the WOW collection is a one stop shop of remote working essentials.
For businesses dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint, purchasing Leitz Recycle home office products are a must. Companies can help keep their hybrid workers organised whilst being mindful of carbon emissions as Leitz Recycle is CO2 neutral and every product is made from a high percentage of recycled materials – this means it’s 100% recyclable too.
Working from home can positively impact employees and many feel refreshed without having to commute. However, overworking is a reality many face as it can be hard to switch off at the end of the day. In an office environment taking breaks for a chat and enjoying the hour lunchbreak is part and parcel of the day. At home it is tempting to work through breaks or eat lunch in front of the computer.
Many employees simply cannot switch off, especially when their work tech is so accessible. For others, it’s about overcompensating due to an anxiety that they are deemed as unproductive compared to those working in the office. Feelings of worry, guilt, and stress can become overbearing, causing remote workers to go above and beyond. This can result in burnout or other mental or physical problems. It is down to senior staff to cultivate a healthy company culture and to ensure employees work their contracted hours only.
The future of hybrid working
Whilst there are downsides to hybrid working, for the most part it is considered a beneficial way of working. Both companies and employees can reap the rewards of splitting their time between their home and office, tailoring their days to best suit the way they work best.
It is predicted that hybrid working models will be adopted by companies across all industries. Many businesses that have already adopted the new way of working as a response to the pandemic cannot imagine returning to the office fulltime. Employees are happier. Productivity is elevated. Results are abundant.
Businesses that have not yet transformed their working model should consider:
- Investing in the right technology for remote working
- Weighing up the costs for both the business and employees
- Carrying out an employee survey to decipher how people want to proceed
- Encouraging open communication regarding the potential for hybrid working
- Creating shared guidelines and policies to facilitate the change
There are no set rules when it comes to hybrid working and flexibility is key. Trial runs can be an effective way of seeing if hybrid working suits a particular company and although change can be daunting, it can often be for the better.