Is Hybrid Working All It’s Cracked Up To Be?Posted in : HR Updates on 9 August 2021
The global pandemic has shone the spotlight on remote working and made it a reality in many organisations including those previously averse to such. Suddenly, many organisations were forced into new ways of working with little choice, but many have since realised the benefit.
As the pandemic ebbs and flows, remote working is now considered common practice, albeit not at 100 per cent capacity. Many employers have adopted a hybrid approach between home and office working for those roles that can be undertaken in either location. Hybrid working is now such a hot topic which has set expectations among workforces and candidate markets that this practice should be offered as a matter of course.
But is hybrid working all it’s cracked up to be or do the cons outweigh the pros?
Pros of hybrid working
- With hybrid working the focus shifts from ‘bums on seats’ to output. Instead of being visible in the office, the emphasis has moved to completion of work and output of results. In other words, actions speak louder than words (or appearing to be busy at your desk).
- Flexible working also enables employees to fit their work schedule around personal commitments. If the work gets done to the same or higher standard, what does it matter if it is done during or outside the conventional 9-5 working day?
- There are significant cost savings to be made by employers due to less office space and in turn lower energy consumption and depletion of office supplies. Some organisations have been able to make significant savings through lower office rental charges. There are also environmental benefits due to reduced office commuting and savings to employees due to lower fuel costs.
- One of the biggest benefits of hybrid working has to be the benefit of a better work/life balance leading to enhanced levels of fulfilment, morale and productivity among employees. This is of course of benefit to the employer as well.
- Candidate expectations are shifting too. In a candidate-led market very often candidates are expecting hybrid working as a given and will simply move on to the next employer if this is not offered. So, hybrid working is an effective attraction and retention tool and will open up talent pools.
But are there any downsides to hybrid working and if so, what are they?
- Firstly, hybrid working is not suited to every job and every industry. In workplaces where some roles are not suited to remote working this can lead to feelings of resentment among staff who can not avail of the same benefit as others. In turn this can create a ‘them and us’ atmosphere. Effective communication is essential when rolling out your hybrid working policy. These employees should be handled with care and be offered ad hoc hybrid working where possible as a compromise.
- For some businesses, customer services may be impacted where services can not be delivered as effectively from home. In such cases it is important to consider what IT and telecommunications solutions could replace existing infrastructures so that customer support remains uninterrupted and can be provided from home. However, there are obvious financial implications of this.
- There is also the risk that hybrid working teams will lose the camaraderie that face-to-face working brings and there are those individuals more suited to office working who can feel marginalised when not working alongside their teammates. As such, hybrid working should ideally be offered as an optional benefit and not enforced. On the whole though, hybrid working is preferable to full-time remote working and with effective communication tools in place that offer built-in audio, video and instant messaging, any impact on team working can be greatly improved.
- Performance is harder to manage remotely. Where output remains the same or indeed improves, this is less of a concern however performance issues become more difficult to deal with. Also, recognition of achievements becomes trickier without visibility so line managers should remember to acknowledge good performance in the same way as they would in the office.
- The management of home-based health and safety can raise questions around the adequacy of home workstations and who is responsible for buying kit, and all other office necessities. Also, employers need to decide what happens if workstations are not compliant with health & safety requirements.
The hybrid working model has without doubt become much more common place over the last 18 months. It is generally accepted that 100 per cent remote working is not conducive to effective working in many organisations and as such a blended approach offers the ideal compromise. Hybrid working is an effective attraction and retention tool, but employers should be mindful of the potential challenges hybrid working can bring and should not rush into rolling it out without proper consideration of how to mitigate any downsides.
CIOD Planning for Hybrid working https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/flexible-working/planning-hybrid-working#gref
ACAS Hybrid working https://www.acas.org.uk/hybrid-workingThis article is correct at 09/08/2021
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