Hybrid Working and the New Normal

Sep 7th, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a large shift across all of society as we have all learned to adapt to a new way of life. Businesses have had to modify the way their operations function in order to remain efficient and profitable. While there had been a slow shift to working from home (WFH) prior to Covid-19, the pandemic has accelerated this. Now that many countries are slowly beginning to shift from WFH during lockdowns to an office environment, hybrid working is more ubiquitous than ever.

The concept of “hybrid working” refers to an arrangement wherein employees can work at the office or work from home. While it does have its advantages minimising the transmission of Covid-19 in the workplace, it also allows employers and employees to find the optimum working arrangements so that they can perform their work productively while also having an improved work/life balance.

Hybrid working could look like any of the following:

Employees choose to WFH or from the office depending on what’s best for them. For example, on a day where they need to attend meetings, they may work from the office, but on a non-client facing day, they may instead choose to stay at home.

This is arguably the most common model, in which employees work from home 2-3 days a week and the remaining days at work. This can function such that different departments attend work on different days so that managers may stay in touch with their teams.

Under this arrangement, employees alternate each week between WFH and at the office. Similar to the split-week arrangement, this can allow larger teams the chance to work together and met for reviews and deadlines.
The most appropriate type of hybrid model will depend on the type of industry that the employees are engaged in.
A hybrid working model allows employees to balance the benefits of working from home (increased work/life balance, higher job satisfaction) while still allowing them to remain connected to the workplace and their colleagues. The flexibility that hybrid working offers can lead to increased employee attraction and retention, as well as employee productivity.
Tips for Introducing Hybrid Working

  • Outline clear expectations for employees and develop a policy – a hybrid working system afford employees with a lot more freedom, and therefore it is necessary that employers set clear goals and employees are kept accountable to them. This can include daily or weekly meetings in which employees share with their team members their progress, such that employees feel a sense of momentum about the work the team is performing. A policy is also encouraged to clearly establish guidelines around how hybrid working will operate in your organisation.
  • Open communication of Work Schedules – It is important to ensure employees are aware of their fellow colleagues work arrangements so that communication within and between teams is best facilitated. This way, employees are aware which team members will be on-site and which can be contacted by other technological means.
  • Operate under a case-by-case basis – All employee’s individual circumstances are different. It’s important to cater any hybrid working arrangements in a flexible fashion that benefits both the employer and the employee based on their unique circumstances.
  • Keep all employees informed appropriately about company changes – Employees that consistently perform work remotely are at risk of being left out of the loop of decisions that are made on site, either by other team members or at a more senior level. It would be best practice to provide consistent updates to all employees to ensure that they are always provided with the necessary information to effectively perform their job.
  • Provide opportunities for face-to-face time among your team – Whether this involve always meeting at the office on one day more team meetings, regular video-chat calls, or external team-bonding activities, its more important than even amongst a hybrid working schedule that team morale and unity is kept strong.
While the pandemic forced many businesses to switch to a WFH model, as the world slowly moves out of the pandemic, its critical that businesses take as much value as they can from the model and apply it as best fit to their own organisation and teams. A proactive approach that manages the risks of Covid-19 while allowing employees to perform at an optimum level is incredibly important, and the hybrid working model will be prevalent and valuable even beyond the extent of the pandemic.

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