2020 has been a difficult and challenging year for everyone and as we look forward to a life beyond Covid-19 with the hope given to us by recent news on vaccines, I have been giving some thought to hybrid working.
Moving to remote working presented most companies with huge challenges to ensure employees were able to work properly, this meant increased complexity with security, access, wi-fi, wellbeing, communication, onboarding and a whole lot more. It has been great to see that businesses have shown themselves in the main to be adaptable, forward-thinking and resilient and this says a lot about the British business community in 2020.
In the main, employees have welcomed more time at home with 60% of the UK workforce remote working in September and of those, 65% think they are more efficient working in a home office. Working from home is also saving employees money, on average £44 per week as commuting and food expenses have been removed. As well as money, remote working is saving time, with the UK average commute time at 59 minutes per day the average person has 5 more hours a week to themselves. For me this has meant more time with my daughter and this has been one of the true highlights in a very challengingyear.
However, it isn’t all good news with 31% struggling with loneliness at work and 22% saying they can’t switch off after work. So, is hybrid working the future of our work place?
At its most basic, hybrid working allows employees to experience the best of both worlds, with some time spent in the office, seeing colleagues, having in-person meetings and enjoying the camaraderie of work whilst still allowing days to be spent at home, freeing up time to spend with family, removing the commute and still saving money. This flexibility will give employees the freedom to find the best balance for them and should lead to happier, more productive and engaged teams.
The benefits of hybrid working can be powerful, enabling your employees to have more autonomy over their time will build more human-centric relationships and can lead to greater happiness and wellbeing as people find a balance that suits their lives. Structuring their work around their life gives a greater sense of freedom than having to structure their life around work. Hybrid working allows businesses to be adaptable and have greater choice when sourcing new employees as new candidate pools will open up. Giving employees a greater sense of empowerment should increase company loyalty and ensure you hold on to good people for longer.
It isn’t all good news, for some people, especially those from a lower socioeconomic background and younger staff living in shared houses, working from home may be impractical so putting in structures that allow everyone to work equally is vital to success. Furthermore, care must be given to how businesses structure their hybrid working so employees feel that their access to development and progression isn’t hindered. If some employees are working from home half the time and others aren’t, the homeworkers can feel left out, or feel that they have less access to information and inclusion on decisions. It is crucial that care is taken to ensure lines of communication, meetings and social interactions can be accessed remotely where possible to ensure maximum productivity across the team.
It may take a while to find out what these processes will be or which systems enable hybrid working to thrive but with careful consideration and positive communication it could be the best of both worlds. I’m certainly looking forward to going back to the office, but I don’t want to give up the time it has given me with my family and I will be embracing hybrid working as my new normal.
October 2020 – James Dale
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