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War of the World of Work – Hybrid Working

(Apologies to “War of the Worlds”)

No one would have believed in the first years of the 2020’s that the world of work would change so much.

Employees working from home with employers trying to watch keenly and closely whilst surprisingly to many, productivity rose in many cases; as people busied themselves about their various concerns they attempted to scrutinise and study the new home workers, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency people remained at home no longer going around this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. Yet across the gulf of business, many bosses, cool and unsympathetic, regarded this new way of working with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against it. And late in 2021 came Omicron and we were advised to do it all again by Government. 

Again, many apologies to Herbert George Wells, but with hybrid working no longer the musings even of fantasising futurists, is it a good or a bad thing? Should we be battling for or against the concept. The truth is for some it is good and for others it is bad – employees and employers both. And, for many, logistical issues mean it can’t even be a considered! 

So, how do we need to adapt…? 

Working at times from home in a hybrid workforce forces the redefinition of performance measures. Presenteeism is thrown away and measurement of productivity may no longer be completely defined as “hours inputted” in the office as more flexible times of work become the norm. Results become the new driving force in work measurement and this can be an opportunity to show employees they are trusted by further distributing leadership. 

In current definitions of hybrid working there may be a reduction in office space required and thus a corresponding reduction in heating, lighting, security etc. and longer term even full real estate costs. How long employees will accept some these costs upon themselves is a whole other debate even with the small tax rebate available. However, they may be keener to accept the reduction in time and money spent on commuting, and longer term even expensive accommodation close to business hubs? Again, longer term this could prove an issue with jobs being able to be done from anywhere, allowing job markets to go worldwide and wages being driven down? Although truly hybrid, as the name implies, may still require some occasional physical presence in business premises unlike complete remote working.  

Even from my own experience I have seen how collaboration with colleagues and clients has changed dramatically. Communication software such as Teams and Zoom has meant that you no longer need to meet in the same room, and this has led to perhaps the greatest change for many, the integration of work and home life. Whether it is working in your living room or managing family life around work and vice versa meaning many of us have seen dogs or cats or young children bursting into our “very important” meetings! 

Great care must be taken to prevent employee isolation as people may spend long periods focussing on individual tasks and remain hidden with no “water cooler” moments and casual discussions forced by simply a matter of being in the same building. Any communication needs to be arranged, planned, and physically managed through media, meaning trivialities may be forgotten, non-direct business relationships abandoned with inter departmental communication lost. Great thought must be put in to how you ensure the cohesion of your workforce, ensuring a strong staff culture and supporting your people. Particular attention must be paid to those staff who are vulnerable. Of course, there are even more difficulties in bringing in new starters and ensuring they feel part of a larger organisation. I have seen organisations having a weekly online “huddle”, or as a Welsh business called it a “cwtch” (useful in Scrabble!), in order to develop and maintain culture and communication. 

Breaches of physical security and cyber security are heightened in a distributed workforce with increased risk of data breach. Businesses must ensure that software updates are maintained, as well as all other online security measures necessary, such as backing up data, and that password policies are followed.  

So, as working from home proves once again to be a necessary arrangement for many businesses employers must think about what will work best in the future for your unique business circumstances and your people. There may be the need to reimagine space in a way that recognises the desire of some employees to continue working remotely whilst also catering to those who prefer a traditional office environment. The changes may lead to knock-on effects of not only having to manage the complexities of meetings with remote and on-site workers present, but could even extend to the reshaping town and business centre redevelopments.  

And, if hybrid options aren’t right for your business now is the time to begin thinking how in the future are you going to entice your employees back to the office?  

For an earlier blog post on hybrid working please refer to Work from home, don’t live at work! 

Crown Workforce Management has been helping businesses understand and manage their workforce 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.  

Meanwhile, our consultants will be with you every step of the way as you reshape your company’s working arrangements. We are highly experienced in doing this to help 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!  

(More apologies to H.G.Wells) 

For so it had come about, as indeed I and many might have foreseen had not conservativism blinded our minds. These thoughts of new ideas have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things-taken toll of our prehuman ancestors since the industrial revolution. But by virtue of resistance to change we have remained almost static in our ideas; to no new ways of working do we succumb without a struggle, and to this – it has taken a global pandemic. 

Let’s look forward to these new ways of working and better times in the future. 

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