Hybridity, like most workplace changes, needs to be embraced and integrated to get the most from it
Over the last decade or so, and in the last two years, in particular, the traditional notions of the 9 to 5 working day have been turned upside down. The pandemic accelerated the shift to working from home (WFH) practices that were already in motion, and from what we at Lavandi Talent are seeing, it is now commonplace in job offers. In some ways, you could argue that hybrid working represents one of the biggest changes in what we consider as being the workplace for hundreds of years. However, although the team may be remote, they still need to integrate properly and be treated appropriately. When we talk about hybrid working, we mean a job role that has partial attendance at a designated workplace and also an element of remote working in a place of the employee’s choice. While there have always been job roles that worked this way, the mass adoption of hybrid working means most businesses now need to consider policies and general practices rather than specific individuals. In short, what was once a perk is now becoming an expectation.
The first thing to think about is that hybridity, like most workplace changes, needs to be embraced and integrated to get the most from it. That does mean some attitude changes sometimes and will certainly mean some procedural changes.
Productivity is usually the first concern with any change. Letting go of the idea that staff need to be ‘overseen’ can be difficult, but really it is just a matter of approach. Hybrid workers need clear objectives to work to and fixed milestones that management teams can use to assess progress. Many businesses report increased productivity from remote workers because they are working to defined outcomes.
If the balance of other support is right, hybrid working can encourage less reliance on work colleagues and other quick answer options and, therefore, more creative problem-solving.
WFH is not only financially beneficial for the employee by reducing the cost of travel and other work costs, but it can also represent a significant saving for the employer. Less office space, utilities, in-house facilities and so forth can all add up to significant savings.
There is a big difference between arranging an hour on Zoom at a specific time and the temptation to chat around a subject across the workplace. Limited time often creates a very specific focus.
Not everyone can work the 9 – 5 life. Hybrid means those with caring duties, difficulties with travel, particular lifestyle requirements or who just prefer a shorter working week are more available. Similarly, it can remove barriers created by distance.
It isn’t all plain sailing, and there can be some downsides to a hybrid approach. Most of these can be negated with careful planning and use of resources.
Many people still see WFH as a perk. Any hybrid working policy needs to be fair and equal in application. The baseline will usually be appropriateness in the first instance (see the point below), but beyond that, employers need to be wary of accidentally being thought of as favouring some workers for hybrid opportunities.
Clearly, not all jobs can be performed at home. Specialist equipment, the need for physical proximity to the workplace and dealing face to face with the public are simply unavoidable reasons to not offer hybrid working. The baseline is always going to be suitability above all other considerations. Another factor can be the individual. Not everyone thrives away from the office, and for some, the working day can be a contributor to mental wellbeing.
Managers will need to instigate new working practices that have an emphasis on recognising achievements, target settings, supporting workers and many other considerations.
There is a real danger of isolation and remoteness in hybrid working. Employees will need support and regular contact as well as feedback and evaluation to make sure they are not left feeling outside the working world. Physical wellbeing is also a consideration, and a good working area is a must.
Whether you adopt a hybrid working system or not, it seems as if it is here to stay and gaining momentum with employers and candidates for new roles. In fact, WFH of some form is often a requirement of a job specification for candidates now. That alone suggest that we are seeing a revolution in working practice rather than a fad brought on by the pandemic.
Call Lavandi if you want to discuss how hybrid working can help you attract the best talent.