<img src="https://secure.leadforensics.com/4108.png" alt="" style="display:none;">

Hybrid Working is here to stay, so let’s make it work!

Hybrid working or working from home for part of the week has become the norm for many workers over the past couple of years. A recent survey from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that 80% of firms had adopted it in some form. Furthermore, the survey reports that disabled workers are 1.3 times more likely than non-disabled workers to be working from home and that, perhaps unsurprisingly, working remotely was more valuable for them as they could better manage their conditions. Obviously, as we have mentioned in a previous blog regarding the 4 day working week, not all types of flexibility complement all types of work. Factory work, much of retail, transport, and medical staff, for example, certainly won’t have much of an opportunity to work from home.

Comment from the CMIThere most certainly was a drive pre-2020 in many industries for smarter working (for instance, a major initiative by the civil service is seen in this still useful 2013 publication “The Way We Work – A Guide to Smart Working in Government”). Many organisations already had home working and other flexible work initiatives, but for many, the move to this new way of working has been prompted by the Covid pandemic and the “work from home” directive. Large companies more than small ones have brought in, and continued, these newer hybrid working practices.

Even with the Prime Minister saying, “be confident and get back to work”, as businesses try to move into a more normalised future, it is clear that much of this change to hybrid working is here to stay. And rightly so if you consider most surveys on productivity and quality of work life!

There certainly are some people that are welcoming the return to office life, others accept a partial return, but for some any return to the place of work, or even turning a camera on whilst on a Teams call, is contemptible. There is a danger that these people could miss out on the inevitable human interaction needed for the full understanding of business and creative aspects. In addition, permanent working from home could mean people have reduced visibility in the workplace and this may affect their future advancement within the organisation. It is especially important that this is managed so as not to add further inequalities to those more likely to work remotely. The CMI survey further highlights concerns about younger staff, women and those with caring responsibilities also missing out and they and many others now regard at least a partial return to the office as best practice. 

It is estimated that up to a third of workplaces are meeting this resistance from their employees for any return to the workplace from home. With a quarter of businesses unsure if they can insist their employees return without legal ramifications. As with most change, often better outcomes come through persuasion rather than obligation. So how can organisations help and encourage these few to make hybrid working work for everyone. There are obvious issues for some with combining their place of work and home life as we have previously discussed in another blog but however the hybrid way of working is utilised, organisations must re-engage with the workforce and endeavour to do everything to both increase productivity and wellbeing. For many years managers have used a checklist, seen in various forms and known as the 5 C’s, for managing geographically distributed teams and it remains useful in the context of enabling better hybrid working.  

  1. COMMUNICATE effectively 
    In some ways, after many of us have got used to Teams/Zoom calls, communication becomes more difficult with the move to a more a hybrid workforce. With all team members on their own computers working from home, this methodology became commonplace, however with some colleagues at home and others in the office even this may now have to be reconsidered. Do those in the office still need to log in separately? Do video conferencing facilities give a level playing field for those present and others “dialling” in? There are no right or wrong answer for everyone here, different people have different preferences. Review how you communicate and whether the balance of email, instant messages, phone calls, video calls and in person meetings is appropriate for effectiveness and well-being. 
  2. Create CONNECTION 
    Avoid a “them & us” mentality developing between office based and home working staff. Those in the office should not be dominant over those elsewhere. Each may be as committed to the organisation as the other. To avoid this, maximise possibilities for informal ad hoc communication and discussion with all, to enable a sense of connectivity. Ensure one on one and interdepartmental meetings to prevent remoteness for individuals. 
  3. Encourage COLLABORATION
    Very much along the same lines as connection, it is essential to involve and work together with all, whether they are present or working elsewhere. Try not to leave remote team members out of conversations and minor decisions as there is more effort required to communicate with them. Your employees should not be made to feel they are working alone wherever they are geographically. Encourage opportunities for whole teams to connect to give all a better understanding of what colleagues are working on and show support or guidance.

  4. Don’t lose CREATIVITY
    Working together can drive creativity, people bounce ideas off each other, problems and novel solutions often develop through teamwork. Although often some ideas can well be developed though working alone, there is a general consensus for most that social interaction and change of scenery can help with creativity. This does not mean that working from home should be discouraged, but hybrid should be just that, with some office presence, some of the time.

    Employees working remotely can feel excluded simply because they aren’t in the same room. By distributing tasks/projects to all is a starting point. Generally, employees feel they have received less recognition when working remotely. The ONS found between 2013 and 2020 those working from home were 38% less likely to have received bonus payments. Employees need to be fully confident that they have corporate support wherever they work and that they will be equally recognised for their work output. This is especially true when onboarding new employees. They must understand the organisations norms, values and culture and what makes you distinctive from other places of work. They must be enabled and encouraged to communicate with their new colleagues. In short, another C could be that you need to create a sense of COMMUNITY across all employees.   

To add a final C, CROWN WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT has been helping businesses understand and manage their workforce across multiple locations for decades. Our workforce management system gives you the power to manage your workforce more flexibly and efficiently than ever before. Our secure mobile app lets businesses support remote and hybrid workers in exactly the same  way as  always on-site staff.  Colleagues can understand when and where people are working. 

Our consultants can help you reshape your company’s working arrangements. We are highly experienced in helping our clients get better control over workforce costs and build on this partnership with their employees. We help businesses to:   

  • Analyse, understand, and predict their demand profiles   
  • Design and develop optimum resource profiles and shift patterns, enabling not only improved productivity but also work-life balance, motivation and reward   
  • Help you manage your future flexible working solutions – monitoring hours usage, absence and planning day to day flexibility requirements   

Learn how Crown can help your business work with these changes and prepare for and adapt to the future world by speaking to one of our specialists today. 

  Free guide  How to use time and attendance data to optimise your workforce  Download the free guide

Crown are here to help you drive efficiency and business growth

Arrange a call