The hybrid working model is no longer seen as a perk, but an expectation by the vast majority of employees. So popular, in fact, that it is arguably the difference between an employee’s happiness in a job, or motivations to look elsewhere. The move to hybrid working over the past year has benefitted many businesses by attracting and retaining staff with 75% of employees expecting this new flexibility. Those who have embraced it with open arms can offer employees a more flexible approach to work, thereby helping to increase productivity, employee morale and support a positive workplace culture.
When it comes to attracting and retaining staff, organisations should consider the importance of this new-found flexibility and avoid the risks of not embracing hybrid working methods. Dan Harding, CEO, Sign In App, argues that in order to adapt and thrive in today’s new working environment, companies should continuously develop and utilise appropriate technology to enable this evolution. The hybrid model may be becoming an expectation from employees, but it can still be a key differentiator for those employers willing to fully embrace it.
Missing the opportunity
If organisations don’t evolve their working policies now, the consequences of such a missed opportunity could be huge. The pandemic has been a catalyst for businesses of all shapes and sizes to adopt hybrid working policies, and, with technology continuing to move forward, many believe it should now be the norm for companies to offer more flexible working policies. With 84% of UK businesses planning on having a hybrid, flexible or remote workforce after the pandemic, it’s clear that employee expectations – and the working world – are changing for the better.
Companies that make the proactive choice to evolve now will be distinguished from those that choose to stay in the traditional, nine-to-five way of working. Organisations should embrace the chance to keep up with the times as other businesses and industries develop and restructure. If not, it could mean a loss of talent as companies will miss the opportunity to hire employees that bring a dynamic and creative approach to the organisation. It could also create a dissatisfied culture as employees become frustrated returning to rigid policies and feel they aren’t trusted to work effectively from where they feel most productive. Ultimately, it will make those dynamic and forward-thinking companies that choose to embrace this opportunity for change, stand out from the crowd and evolve faster than the rest.
Employee and employer flexibility
With the move to hybrid working, it is important to create the right balance for employees wanting to return to the traditional way of working, as well as those requesting a more flexible setup. Empowering employees with the option to come to the office when it suits them, offers a flexible approach that fits employees’ different views on hybrid working.
With the hybrid approach drastically improving employee retention, companies need to adapt for success. Benefiting from a healthier work-life balance, reducing the stressful morning commute and saving money are all high value outcomes that many employees will seek out. Research found that 45% of employees would take a pay cut in order to continue working from home with 41% stating they would resign if forced to return to the office each day of the week – a clear and real risk for organisations still choosing to shun flexible working.
Continuing the hybrid way of working is a win-win for not just the employee, but also the employer. With the improvement of productivity and employee satisfaction, many organisations will become more attractive, capturing the attention of a new range of talent and skills from a wider geography. If employees do not have to attend an office every day, then the employer can, in theory, benefit from a wider geographical scope to recruit and attract talent from a much wider pool of employees, in turn, helping to develop an overall greater skill set amongst existing and new staff. As employers seek competitive advantage in ever increasing competitive environments, companies that don’t evolve risk losing a great range of talent and a diverse workforce.
Failing to capitalise on technology
Technology is the foundation for a hybrid working model to be successful. With new and innovative technologies entering the market, employers that embrace these digital solutions and give their employees greater access to a range of communication tools will only benefit from a more collaborative approach amongst their staff. Additionally, technology can provide managers with greater visibility, for example, employee status as to whether they are available or in a meeting, as well as who and how many people are on site.
Allowing staff to use a greater set of synergetic tools makes them more efficient by scheduling shorter, virtual meetings which can provide the potential to increase productivity. With the use of technology and video calls, it is now more accessible to get immediate contact with those in and outside of your workforce no matter your location, making communication just as efficient as in the office.
Once a business has implemented a set of technical and collaborative channels for its employees, it is vital that staff do not become ‘forgotten’, and that they use these tools to effectively communicate with staff. Using these platforms and open questionnaires is key to safeguarding employees while at home, especially with increasing concern about both the mental and physical well-being of employees with 1 in 6.8 employees having experienced mental health problems in the workplace.
As part of the hybrid model, that chance encounter at a coffee machine or in a corridor can stimulate engagement and idea sharing which is a key part of office life whilst maintaining a positive and supportive company culture. Humans are social creatures and the use of collaborative tools that focus primarily on scheduled calls or meetings can mean that employees miss out on productive encounters with colleagues, as well as further creating relationships with their colleagues.
This is why the hybrid model is so crucial. Flexibility is key, so a hybrid way of working can enable employers and employees to get the best of both worlds. Crucially, this must be seen as an iterative process for each business, tweaking the approach as it unfolds to ensure it works for all. Perhaps one set day a month for team touchdowns isn’t enough, or certain teams need to be in the office on a particular day a week or, in fact, for certain industries or organisations a high level of flexibility isn’t appropriate.
Trust, transparency and communication with employees will mean that alterations to the hybrid model can be discussed and any changes given time to settle, allowing the management team to do what works for their business. Without it, businesses risk returning to a stale, rigid setup that doesn’t listen to or meet the needs of its employees. In turn, potentially resulting in a disengaged and unproductive team and culture, unable to meet the needs of staff – or attract new employees.
The working world has changed for the better. As we move into the post-pandemic lifestyle, if your employees are doing just as much or being even more productive, healthier and enjoying life more than before; why would you insist on going back to old ways? The hybrid working model has proved successful throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so going forward. Those businesses that are hesitant to adopt the hybrid model – and that can benefit from the approach – must stop being stubborn, embrace change if it is right for the team and the business. Employees have tasted the hybrid way and if they can’t get it from their current employer, they know there are plenty of businesses that will offer a more employee first approach to satisfy what they desire from their employer and career.