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27th July 2021

Adapting to the Hybrid Model of Working

The past 18 months have led to changes in employees’ mindsets and how organisations operate. We know now that there is no need to tie work to a fixed location to ensure the productivity and delivery of outcomes. Certain work aspects, however, are still far better performed in the same location and at the same time with our colleagues. It is no surprise that with people being advised to return to the office, some organisations have decided to combine both and offer hybrid working. But what do they need to consider when adapting to this model of working to make it a success?

Recent trends show that hybrid  working is starting to grow strong roots in the UK. The CIPD (2021) reports that 43% of the organisations have taken on that model since the pandemic began. This percentage is likely to grow further. A recent survey by HRLocker (2021) suggests that as many as 76% of UK employers consider offering hybrid working as a job perk to attract new talent. Moreover, almost all employees (90%) who took part in the survey see it as a necessity, with 60% of them also stating they would be willing to quit their job if their employer does not demonstrate greater flexibility about when and where they work post-pandemic.

What do those statistics show us?

There is a huge amount of pressure on organisations to introduce hybrid working abut we are currently in unmarked territory. Only 18 months ago, many businesses considered working full-time from the office as the only way they could operate. Hybrid working is still a new concept to many. Moreover, there is no guidance on the best hybrid working strategy and practice; that is something we are yet to discover.

Here are some considerations for organisations looking to introduce hybrid working to their workforce:

1. Remember that every business is different.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid working. A strategy that might be successful in big corporations might not work for a small business. It is important to listen to the employees, what do they think would work best? Establishing an organisation’s hybrid working model means having a two-way conversation with the workforce and finding out what level of employee flexibility would produce the best business outcomes.

2. Provide your staff with the necessary training.

Hybrid working will make new demands and require new skills of managers. How can a hybrid workforce be managed effectively? There are unique challenges, different from the ones experienced in either predominantly office-based and remote working and it is essential to prepare management for how to deal with them. Therefore, managers need to be trained on how to implement new ways of working in their teams. They also need support to develop the necessary skills to effectively performance manage, communicate and collaborate with their hybrid teams. We believe that all employees would benefit from training focused on wellbeing, work-life balance and effectively using the recommended digital platforms.

3. Support diversity and inclusion.

The pandemic has highlighted a number of inequalities within the workforce. Women, people from minority ethnic backgrounds and those with caring responsibilities have faced a number of extra challenges throughout the pandemic. They have been more likely to be furloughed and working parents, women in particular, were negatively impacted by the lockdown, struggling to juggle childcare and working from home (read our article on the pandemic impact on gender equality at work here). All of this resulted in inequalities in terms of career development opportunities.

Therefore, with the introduction of hybrid working, organisations have to ensure equal and fair allocation of work and opportunities across their workforce. Employers should identify areas where inequalities may have developed and address them by creating long-term solutions. It is also important to identify the risks to diversity and inclusion that hybrid working might bring and find out how to mitigate those. If due to the nature of the work they do, some employees cannot work on a hybrid basis, then it is important to make them aware of other forms of flexible working that might be suitable.

4. Look after employees’ wellbeing.

Although having the flexibility of hybrid working might seem like a job perk to many, different people have different experiences. Some employees might feel anxious or overwhelmed by the thought of returning to the office. Others might be experiencing poor mental health as a result of the isolation created by the lockdown. Despite the flexibility and freedom that hybrid working introduces, it might also make it more difficult for some employees to manage their work-life balance. So, it is important to address employees’ specific concerns and offer ongoing support to both them and their managers. Managers need training on how to recognise potential signs of poor mental health or wellbeing in their employees.

Hybrid working is here to stay, and employers have a responsibility to prepare both their business and the workforce for the changes this new work model is going to bring.

Impact Psychology for Business has experience delivering bespoke training programmes focused on dealing with change and supporting employee wellbeing. If you want to find out more about how we can help you and your organisation, you can contact us here.

Additional Resources:

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/flexible-working/planning-hybrid-working

https://bfpa.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/2021-03-adapting-to-hybrid-working-mini-guide-1.pdf

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/flexible-working/line-manager-supporting-hybrid-working