Why hybrid working should now be integral to your business strategy – and what to consider if it’s not
Hybrid working, once only favoured by forward-thinking businesses looking to improve the work/life balance of their employees, has now become an established working strategy with clear benefits for improving productivity and employee satisfaction.
But that doesn’t mean the transition has been plain sailing for all. The move to hybrid working has come with its own challenges and many have endured a trial-and-error period implementing it.
For those still struggling with the transition, it’s important to bake in the strategy now – especially given its role in ensuring employee retention and attracting new talent. So how can you do that? In this piece, we look at the key considerations to understand how hybrid working should work for you and what to do if it isn’t.
Understanding what hybrid working involves
A successful hybrid working strategy relies on a clear understanding, by employer and employee, of what hybrid working actually means for the organisation. Essentially it involves employees being able to split their time between the office and working remotely – wherever they may choose to do so. Typically, they will be expected to be in the office between 1 to 4 days a week, with the focus on time in the office usually to do with collaboration, social interaction and the tasks that may be more challenging remotely.
Does hybrid working work for your business?
Essentially this isn’t really a question to be asking. Although hybrid working doesn’t necessarily work for everyone it works for most – when it’s done correctly. So the question shouldn’t be does it suit your business but are you implementing it effectively?
And this is where the greatest challenge can be, according to Nativspace Workspace Director Kathryn Hurt. “For many companies, hybrid working is likely to fail if it is not properly introduced into a business.”
This makes it important to listen to your staff and their needs. “Workspace trends move around the demands and requirements of people and those requirements are still the most important thing when companies come to assess their ways of working,” she says. “What is important is that hybrid working is based on a solid strategy with a thorough understanding of what it means for your business.”
Hybrid working is based on a solid strategy with a thorough understanding of what it means for your business.KATHRYN HURTNativspace workspace director
How to ensure a solid strategy is in place
The solid base required may mean going back to the basics that should underpin your hybrid working strategy. Infrastructure is critical and should include everything from IT, leadership, and the working environment to cultural buy-in from staff. Clear definitions and policies mean that everyone understands what is required and the boundaries of hybrid working for your business.
Employee engagement relies on a thorough understanding of your employees’ needs and requirements. For many, hybrid working suits them because it allows greater flexibility in their personal lives, such as childcare responsibilities.
In a trial currently underway by 4 Day Week employees at more than UK 70 firms get 100% of their pay for 80% of their normal hours worked. At the halfway point of the six-month trial 95% of respondents said that productivity had been maintained or improved and 86% said they would keep the policy going after the end of the trial. Similar pilots are happening in the US, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
Staff are likely motivated by the greater freedom and trust in them to get their work done, as well as the savings made, with 4 Day Week estimated that as well as lower commuting costs a parent with two children would save £3,232.40 on average per year, or £269.36 a month.
Does your office space suit your hybrid working model?
In some cases, hybrid working may mean the option or need to downsize your office space. In others it’s simply been about modifying existing office space and introducing new workspace rules. Now hybrid working has become more established it might be time to reassess your space. However, before considering relocating your office you can ask three key questions:
What is your occupancy rate?
Hybrid working means not everyone is in the office at the same time. With no changes to your setup the occupancy rate of a hybrid working office will be around 50%. But occupancy rates vary across the week – with Friday being the most popular day for staff to be working remotely.
Normalising occupancy across the entire week balances out the use of your office space and ideally you should be aiming for 50% occupancy for the entire week.
Would a redesign make hybrid working more effective?
Answer to follow
Can surplus space be relet?
Answer to follow
Is your technology infrastructure working for the hybrid model?
Technology is another key element of a successful hybrid infrastructure. It needs to provide ease of access, good connectivity, and the opportunity to communicate with staff, wherever they are working so it’s important to assess whether needs are being met or not. For businesses that adopt output and productivity-based metrics technology also needs to support that too.
Within the office everything from room booking systems to universal docking across workstations needs to be considered to ensure that the in-office experience works for the hybrid employee.
The power of hybrid working to retain existing talent and attract new
Hybrid working is a powerful tool for both retaining existing staff and attracting new talent. According to research by glassdoor, hybrid workers have greater satisfaction in their role with 63% of 2,000 uk office workers surveyed saying they were happier and a similar number reporting improved work-life balance (64%) and improved ability to deal with personal responsibilities (66%) with half (49%) less likely to look for a job as a result.
This makes hybrid working an effective differentiator when it comes to attracting new staff. Indeed, it’s now often a non-negotiable expectation amongst gen Z and millennial workers especially, although they appreciate the role of the office too with more than 74% of gen Z employees preferring interacting with colleagues face-to-face.
A key part of this is the role of employee experience for when staff are in the office as well as when they aren’t, which means building a hybrid workspace that your staff want to be a part of.
Improved work-life balance
Improved ability to deal with personal responsibilities
Less likely to look for a job as a result
Ensuring the design of our office suits the hybrid working model
The effectiveness of your hybrid working strategy is also impacted by the design of your office so as well as revisiting your space it can be worth reassessing your design too. It should offer something that remote environments don’t in order to ensure staff come into the office not just out of obligation but because it provides something they can’t get remotely.
And the need element is essential. While it’s easy to think that a Google-styled playground office might be what’s needed in today’s age it’s most often not. Your office design should support and encourage the individual culture of your business and give workers the space that they need to do their job. So that might mean quiet spaces, but it will more likely mean collaborative areas that support the group work that they can’t do when working outside the office.
Ensuring hybrid working increases productivity
Improved productivity is a key benefit of hybrid working – but only when it’s implemented well. Measuring productivity in your business will therefore help you to understand whether the strategy is working for your business or not and highlight any adjustments needed. Once again defining the office space aids helps with this goal. Is it a place for concentrated and focused work or an opportunity for collaborative work and social interaction?
Assessing the right culture is in place
The impact of hybrid working on company culture is inevitable, so nurturing culture is key. If that’s something that has been overlooked in your implementation of hybrid working, then ensure that the right leadership and supportive environment are in place to begin that nurturing process.
Understanding this is a long-term change rather than a short-term reaction
It’s inevitable that hybrid working is here to stay with giants such as Apple, Microsoft and Spotify among those leading the charge. With the core elements of leadership, culture, technology, people, office design and performance monitoring in place companies are realising the benefits – such as office space cost reductions and improved productivity. But as with any workplace environment a continued understanding of how hybrid working impacts your business and your staff, and how it can be improved further, will be essential to its success.
Essential workspace guide
How to overcome hybrid work challenges
Our essential guide will open the door to thinking in new ways about how to transform your workspace, so that it works for people – however they choose to use the office. Ensuring your company is best placed to respond to the challenges that the increased shift towards hybrid working continues to present for business.Download now
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