Hybrid working has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many businesses transitioning to a hybrid work setup or considering it as an option. This was already a growing trend pre-Pandemic but Covid-19 saw many businesses forced to quickly shift to a hybrid work setup due to lockdown restrictions. In fact, it was the only way for many businesses to survive those difficult times with those able to transition effectively, emerging well-equipped to take on the post-pandemic world.
But is hybrid working right for your business? And what are the advantages and challenges of this setup? Let’s explore.
What is Hybrid Working?
Hybrid working is a blend of in-person and remote work, operations taking place both at the office and from home or other remote locations. This enables businesses to be more flexible and responsive, allowing team members to work together remotely while still being able to meet and collaborate in person.
While this wasn’t possible in the past, technology and the internet have made it much easier for businesses to set up hybrid working with little disruption. Today, there are many programmes and software which facilitate hybrid working including video conferencing, shared documents, remote chat and task management.
Hybrid working is thought to be a good balance between working exclusively from home or in the office because it allows for the flexibility of remote work but still fosters in-person collaboration and the advantage of face-to-face interactions.
Benefits of Hybrid Working for Businesses
Hybrid working has become popular for businesses due to a variety of factors including:
- Cost savings – With fewer staff in the office, businesses can save money on rent, utilities and other costs associated with having an office and staff.
- Increased efficiency – As employees do not have to commute to and from work, they are more likely to settle straight into their work and use every minute effectively.
- Improved collaboration – Hybrid workers can collaborate on projects more easily due to shared documents, remote chat and video conferencing. This enables teams to work together even when members may be based in different locations.
- Potential for improved productivity – Studies have found that when given the right environment and equipment, remote workers can be more productive due to fewer distractions.
- Increased flexibility – With hybrid working, businesses are able to accommodate different team members’ needs while also enabling them to work in a way which suits their individual preferences.
- Improving employee satisfaction and morale – Hybrid working gives staff the flexibility to balance their work and personal lives while still feeling connected to the team.
- Fewer sick days and unauthorised absences – With normal in-office work, employees may call in sick because they don’t want to infect anyone else or they have no energy to commute. Working from means that employees are more likely to work even when they are feeling a little under the weather.
Possible Downsides of Hybrid Working for Businesses
However, with the potential benefits of hybrid working come challenges and issues that your business should be aware of:
- Security – Working remotely can put sensitive data at risk as staff are no longer physically in the office and may have access to networks which lack adequate security measures.
- Communication barriers – With team members in different locations, it can be harder for the team to communicate effectively with each other and collaborate on projects.
- Difficulty tracking progress – It can be difficult for managers to keep track of their employees’ progress when they are not physically in the office.
- Questions over productivity – This issue has been raised at the highest levels with Jacob Rees Mogg publicly questioning civil servants’ productivity when working from home.
- A casual attitude to work – Some workers may feel that they can get away with taking their work less seriously when they are not in an office environment.
- Fewer opportunities for mentoring and feedback – Managers can find it difficult to communicate with employees in a remote setting, making it harder for them to provide feedback or mentor employees.
- Impaired inter-relationships between employees and management – As remote workers are not able to physically interact with their colleagues, it can affect the level of trust and communication between them.
Which Businesses and Industries are Best Suited for Hybrid Working?
Hybrid working is best suited for businesses which require flexibility and want to reduce overhead costs. Industries such as finance, consultancy, IT, marketing and media are the most likely to benefit from hybrid working as they involve mostly computer-based work and tasks which can be collaborated on via digital means.
Obviously, there are many businesses and industries which may not be suited to hybrid working, such as those which require team members to be physically on-site in order to carry out their tasks. These include customer service, retail, manufacturing and hospitality.
Benefits of Hybrid Working for Employees
Hybrid working is also beneficial for employees in several ways.
- Improved work–life balance – Employees can enjoy the flexibility of working from home and save time on commuting which can be better spent on family and personal interests.
- Reduced stress – Remote working can reduce stress levels as employees do not have to commute, won’t feel pressured by office rules and etiquette, can work in a comfortable and relaxed environment and will have fewer financial worries due to savings on commuting, work attire and eating at work.
- Flexibility with work hours – While some businesses may require all employees to work at the same time, others may allow for flexible work hours, giving employees the freedom to choose when they work.
How Can You Judge Employee Performance and Productivity When Hybrid Working?
There are a few different ways to judge and evaluate hybrid workers’ performance and productivity, such as:
- Using performance reviews to track progress – Regular performance reviews with employees can help keep them on track and ensure that they are meeting their goals. This can be done either remotely or on the days when employees are in the office.
- Live monitoring employee activity – This can help managers track employees’ productivity when working from home and ensure that they are using the time to their advantage.
- Use of software and tools – Software such as Slack, Trello and Asana can be used to keep track of tasks and progress made by employees, monitor their performance and provide feedback as necessary.
- Weekly or daily check-ins – Regular check-ins with employees can help keep them motivated and on track with their work, while also allowing your managers to provide feedback or training if needed.
Generally speaking, when it comes to tracking employee performance when they are not in the office, the focus should be on output rather than input. This means that rather than tracking how many hours your employees are spending at their desks using a time-tracking system, you should be looking at the quality of their work and the results they are producing.
While it can be tempting to micromanage your employees and check how long they spent on their tasks compared to how long they spent on Facebook, this will only damage morale and trust. Instead, focus on setting clear expectations of what needs to be produced, providing feedback when necessary and giving employees the freedom to work in their own style as long as they are delivering results.
What Tools are Most Useful for Hybrid Businesses?
There are various tools that businesses can use for every aspect of hybrid work. These include:
- Time tracking software – This allows managers to keep track of how long it takes employees to complete tasks and monitor their performance.
- Project management software – This allows teams to manage projects, assign tasks, set deadlines, track progress and access data in one place.
- Video conferencing software – This allows teams to stay connected and collaborate, without having to be in the same place.
- Automated payrolling software – This allows businesses to pay their employees accurately and on time without the need for employees to swipe in or physically fill in a time sheet. It also enables businesses to keep track of hours worked and tax deductions.
- Cloud storage – This allows businesses to store files securely and access them from anywhere. These tools can make hybrid working much easier for both managers and employees, allowing everyone to stay on top of their workloads and remain productive.
How to Get Started with Hybrid Working?
If you are looking to transition your business to a hybrid working setup, the first step is to talk to your employees. Discuss their preferences and expectations for hybrid work and find out what kind of schedule would suit them best. For some businesses, it may be beneficial to have all staff in the office at certain times of the week or month, while others may prefer a more flexible approach.
Once you have discussed the various options with your employees, look at every task and process in your business and work out which ones are best done in the office, at home, in teams or individually. This will help you devise a schedule that works for everyone, calculate how many remote work hours should be assigned and enable you to share these hours fairly amongst your team.
Finally, you need to clearly set out the expectations of hybrid working with your employees. This can include setting guidelines for communication and collaboration, the use of video conferencing tools, access to files and data, security protocols and rules about taking breaks or going on holiday on work days.
By taking the time to get these details right, you can ensure a successful transition to hybrid working for your business and ultimately reap all the benefits it has to offer.
Three Examples of Hybrid Work Schedules
Hybrid working is highly flexible and can be adapted to suit the needs of different businesses and industries. Here are three examples of hybrid work schedules that many businesses have found effective:
1. Two days on-site, three days remote – In this setup, employees come into the office twice a week and work remotely for the other three days. This allows them to make the most of their on-site time while giving them enough flexibility to work from home when necessary. This setup can also allow your employees to choose the days they are in the office. This can be a huge benefit if they have a lot of responsibilities on certain days and not others. For example, if an employee has their children on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, they can work on those days and can come into the office on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
2. Alternating days – In this setup, employees come into the office one day and work remotely the next. This is usually done on a rotational basis, so that 50% of your staff are in the office on any given day, while the other 50% is working remotely. This gives everyone in your team an equal amount of time to work from home and be present in the office and also means you will be able to downsize your office space if necessary.
3. Flexible hours – This set-up allows employees to come into the office any time between 9 am and 5 pm, giving them a lot of flexibility over when they work from home and when they come in for meetings or to collaborate with other team members. This can be great for businesses that do not require everyone to be present at the same time, such as those with a lot of remote sales staff or project-based teams.
Speak to your employees about which of these most suits their work-life balance. You may find that you are able to have employees on different schedules as long as all the tasks are completed and everyone is able to collaborate well.
Hybrid working can be an incredibly powerful and effective working model for businesses of all sizes. By devising the right setup, setting expectations with your employees and implementing the right tools to facilitate remote work, you can ensure a successful transition to hybrid working in your business. The key to success ensuring that hybrid working is right for both your business and your employees because this will guarantee everyone is fully onboard and committed to success. Good luck!