Hybrid Working Model: A Guide for the Workplace

Hybrid Working Model: A Guide for the Workplace

The dynamic of the workforce has changed dramatically in recent times. Necessity of remote working has highlighted every positive and negative, equally so for working in the office.

As some form of normality resumes, the question for most businesses is what does this mean for them?

A Gallup study found that 54% of office workers would leave their role for one with more flexibility. Flexible approaches to working must be high on the agenda if businesses are to function.

              Oak Engage graphic depicting that 54% of office workers would leave their role for more flexibility

But what does a hybrid working model, or the best of both worlds, look like? Our guide will take you through the approaches to and the reasons for a hybrid model.

The guide will include:

  • What is Hybrid Working? 
  • Hybrid Working Trends
  • What are the Different Types of Hybrid Work?
  • Advantages of the Hybrid Working Model
  • Disadvantages of the Hybrid Working Model 
  • How HR Can Approach Hybrid Working 
  • Why Hybrid Working is Here to Stay

What is Hybrid Working 

A hybrid model encourages flexible and blended working from different locations. This ranges from; home, on-the-go or in the office.

It can be an official arrangement between employer and employee or is flexible by nature. On occasion it is at the discretion of the worker, but it all depends on the company.

In order for a hybrid model to work, the appropriate processes and technology must be in place.

 

“Without the right technologies, there is the risk that employees won’t be kept in the loop when they aren’t in the office”
Bryony Solly, People Coordinator for Oak Engage 

 

Hybrid Working Trends

An Institute of Directors study found that 63% of businesses will now shift towards hybrid working. However, The CIPD found that 65% of employers did not offer this prior to the pandemic. This demonstrates a seed change in attitude over recent months

Demonstrating its success 63% of high-revenue growth companies favour a hybrid working model. On the other hand, 69% of companies with stagnant growth wish to have fully remote or on-site staff.

What this shows is that companies who are more flexible generally enjoy more success. How much of a coincidence is this?

What are the Different Types of Hybrid Work?

Before implementing a hybrid working model, you must first define the approach that best suits your workforce. Hybrid working isn’t a straightforward concept and there are many different variations. 

       

Remote-First 

A remote-first approach is where this is the primary option for most or all employees . The exact arrangement will vary depending on business and personnel.

Most organisations with this approach will still have some type of office space. This is commonly used for meetings, those who wish to use the office or those whose job requires their physical presence.

This approach is best suited to workforces spread across various locations and timezones.

Office-Occasional

The office-occasional model is the idea that the employees go into the office a few times a week. This can be designated office days or a more flexible approach.

Office-occasional is becoming popular with businesses who still have office space. However, it is also beneficial for collaboration and teamwork. It is a model that blends in-person and solo work.

A truly combined approach, this requires the most consistency in regards to guidelines. Otherwise, the organisation risks steering into other working models which will cause confusion.

Office-First

The office-first model is where the office is designated as the primary workspace. However, remote working is still an option in this model.

Office-first is especially popular if the leadership team is present. Usually employees will follow suit if they wish to work closely with management.

Another approach is to apply office-first working to specific teams. Although a clearer concept, this could create divisions in the workforce.

Advantages of the Hybrid Working Model

Getting hybrid working right can yield significant results. Success enjoyed by businesses with flexible working are testament to that. Here are our top 3 advantages your business could enjoy from a hybrid working model. 

Encompasses Best of Both Approaches

Clearly there is an appetite for more remote working, but there are aspects workers aren't fond of. A Mercer study found that 94% do not think remote working hinders productivity. But, in the same study 20% of people say they struggle with collaboration away from the office.

               Oak Engage graphic showing stats of remote working

In essence, a hybrid approach marries remote and in-office working. Collaboration improves with more regular face-to-face meetings and having teams in the office. With home working, autonomy and quieter workspaces will also assist productivity.

Hybrid working models can help to alleviate the issues caused by inflexible approaches.

Improves Culture 

The 2020 State of Remote report found that 98% of workers want a level of remote working for the rest of their career. Hybrid approaches show that a company cares about the motivations of their employees.

              Oak Engage graphic showing 98% of workers want remote working through the rest of their careers

Valuing employee views can cultivate a two-way relationship between business and employee. If done in the right way, adopting a hybrid working model can create a culture of transparency.

Whilst listening to workers in providing remote work, office based aspects to a hybrid model also improves culture. In-person meetings and work days can also help to build employee relationships. 46% say they contribute to their overall happiness.

Promotes Employee Wellbeing 

Hybrid working can help employees achieve a good work-life balance. The time saved on commuting can be spent with friends, family or doing something they enjoy. Worries of having to rearrange appointments are eased with a more flexible calendar.

A Statista survey found that 78% of people consider work-life balance when searching for a job. Organisations who have a reputation of supporting have an advantage in recruiting talent.

Disadvantages of the Hybrid Working Model

Despite the advantages to a hybrid working model, businesses can suffer negative consequences. These can be barriers to success in this type of infrastructure. Here are 3 disadvantages to a hybrid working model. 

A Divided Workforce

However, hybrid working models can cause division and isolation in the workforce. It could create teams within teams or isolate individuals, depending on working patterns.

This is why it is so important to have a structure that takes this all into account. Working patterns should be implemented to ensure optimum collaboration but stay true to the model. Collaboration and integrating workplace communication tools is integral , so nobody gets left behind.

Gaps in Communication 

Depending on guidelines, you may have co-workers in the office on different days. This can cause more communicative issues than full remote working. Meetings and collaboration between remote and onsite employees may be difficult to manage.

​​Here, extensive two-way communication skills are required , which can pose a big challenge. To alleviate these issues, uniform communication channels which support all workers are integral.

Need for New or Different Office Space

If hybrid working hasn't been adopted previously, you must be open to rethinking your office layout. You may even need a new office space altogether.

Since it is unlikely everyone will be in at the same time, keeping the same office may not be cost effective. This process may also bring about other significant costs.

Moving to a new office will be an expensive exercise, but so will having one that isn’t size appropriate. Aligning the physical workspace with the needs of new working arrangements is essential. The cost and potential ROI is something that needs consideration.

               Oak Engage graphic showing advantages and disadvantages of hybrid working

How HR Can Approach Hybrid Working

The hurdles presented by hybrid working can cause a headache for HR leaders. How do you put in place a model that serves business and employee interests?

Oak’s People Coordinator, Bryony Solly believes that whilst employees are in favour of hybrid working, HR must help businesses embrace technology to keep them engaged and informed. 

Bryony said: “Hybrid working has really revolutionised the way we work and the overwhelmingly positive feedback from employees means it is here to stay.”

“However, it isn’t as simple as telling your employees that they can work in multiple locations without considering how it is done. Companies should be thinking about investing in the right technology to suit hybrid working.”

She concluded :“Without the right technologies, there is the risk that employees won’t be kept in the loop when they aren’t in the office”

As important as technology is to hybrid models, how it's used is equally so. Here are ways HR can approach hybrid working, based on findings of complementary research by Gartner.

Gartner is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved

Teach Employees How to Avoid Burnout 

Burnout as a result of remote working has been an increasing concern. The 2021 Gartner® report on Well-Being and Engagement in the Hybrid Organisation, found that: “Ninety-six percent of HR leaders are more concerned about employees’ well-being today, compared with before the pandemic, and 93% of HR leaders are more specifically concerned about employee burnout.”

However, the Gartner report recommends ways that businesses can prepare their employees to mitigate the risks of burnout.

“Raise awareness of burnout signals by educating employees on early warning signs.”
Gartner, Improve Employee Well-Being and Engagement in the Hybrid Organization, Rob O'Donohue, 15 July 2021

Your intranet’s content feed should provide important information and require read receipts when necessary. Oak understands the necessity of providing a platform where employees WILL see what they need.

Recognise & Reward

The absence of the physical team and managerial presence can create a disconnect . Perhaps also an inability to understand their worth. When someone does good work, they should be recognised . It can make a world of difference to the employee experience.

According to Gartner:”Knowing the key role that reward and focus have in helping to keep motivation high, executive leaders must ensure their employees are reminded that they are working toward their goals and are making progress.”

Rewarding your employees with a simple post of recognition to the company’s social feed, you can achieve this with remote and hybrid teams.

Encourage Breaks During the Working Day

Whilst home may be a place of rest, home working can bring it with a feeling of guilt for relaxing. Whilst it is important to make employees aware of the warning signs, you must also encourage them to relieve stress.

The Gartner report states: “Executive leaders should promote and enforce the practice of rest and recharge activities if they want to maintain a healthy sense of urgency.”

Understanding the need to switch off, Oak provides community hubs for employees to discuss outside interests or organise group exercise sessions . By advocating such activities, you can get the best out of a well-rested workforce.

                     Two employees in discussion

To read more Gartner recommendations on Wellbeing and Engagement in the Hybrid Workplace click here for complimentary access to this report. 

Why Hybrid Working is Here to Stay

Enforced remote working in the pandemic has highlighted its many benefits. But it has shown what it can lack, such as collaboration and being able to build a culture. A hybrid model represents the best of both, which is why a marriage of remote and in-person is a logical step.

Recent Microsoft research found that 87% of employers had adapted to hybrid working. The same study found that 56% of employees were happier working from home. All of this points to hybrid working becoming the norm. Companies who fail to adapt risk being left behind.

With some planning and preparation, it’s absolutely possible to make a hybrid model work. The right structure, technology and personnel can help your business run effectively.

By taking on board the points raised by this blog, you can improve connectivity and well-being in a mixed work environment.

 

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