Telling the truth about SME life today

Is Hybrid Working Right for Your Business?

working at home and office

Many businesses have started to consider hybrid working as an option. Some have fully transitioned to it as it has become a favourable alternative to on-site work in recent years. 

Although it was already a trend in the pre-pandemic era, lockdown restrictions during COVID-19 saw a rapid shift in companies adopting this work model. It was the only option left for companies to survive and those who effectively utilised and transitioned into this were well-equipped to navigate the post-pandemic world.

But is hybrid working right for your business and what are the advantages and challenges of this setup? 

What is Hybrid Working?

Hybrid working is a mixture of both in-person and remote work. It gives employees the opportunity to work both in the office environment itself or a different remote place like home. Through this set-up, companies can be flexible to their employee’s preferences and needs whilst ensuring that the business can continue to operate. It allows for both independent work and collaboration and meeting in person.

Advances in technological spheres and internet accessibility have made it easier to set up hybrid working with little hiccups, which wasn’t possible in the past. Software and programs like video conferencing, document sharing and remote management and collaboration tools have facilitated the widespread acceptability of hybrid work.

This also encourages a good work-life balance for workers compared to exclusively working at home or in-office working. One of the biggest benefits of hybrid working is that it offers the flexibility of remote working, without totally cutting off face-to-face interaction and collaboration. 

Benefits of Hybrid Working for Businesses

Hybrid working has become popular for businesses due to a variety of factors including:

  • Cost savings Having less staff in the office leads to cost savings on expenses such as rent, utilities and other resources 
  • Increased efficiencyCutting commuting time and cost, employees can settle right into their work and use their time more effectively.
  • Improved collaborationDifferent teams can work together on multiple projects by using features like video conferencing, shared documents and projects. It even enables teams from different locations to work together.
  • Potential for improved productivity –  A number of studies indicate that provided the right equipment and environment, and with less chance for distractions, remote workers can become more productive.
  • Increased flexibility By using this flexible model, the needs and preferences of different employees or teams can be accommodated by allowing them to work in a way which suits them.
  • Improving employee satisfaction and moraleA good work-life balance can be created by providing employees the flexibility to cherish their personal life while also being accountable and connected to their team.
  • Fewer sick days and unauthorised absences – With the option of remote work, employees are less likely to call in sick leaves in the fear of spreading infection or even take leaves if they just don’t have the energy to commute. As they are home anyways, they can just clock into work.

Possible Downsides of Hybrid Working for Businesses

With the potential benefits of hybrid working come challenges and issues that your business should be aware of:

  • SecurityEmployees using unsecure networks and internet connections at multiple remote locations can potentially risk the sensitive data getting exposed or hacked.
  • Communication barriersCommunication can turn ineffective with team members at different locations (sometimes different time zones), which can hamper their ability to collaborate on projects
  • Difficulty tracking progressThe lack of physical presence can make it difficult for managers to track the progress of employees’ work.
  • Questions over productivityThe question over the productivity levels of a remote worker has been raised at the highest level. Civil servants’ productivity when working from home was publicly questioned by Jacob Rees Mogg, who demanded a rapid return of employees to office after COVID restrictions were lifted.
  • A casual attitude to workSome workers may take a more than suitable casual approach to work when they don’t have a physical supervisory body to monitor them.
  • Fewer opportunities for mentoring and feedbackWith remote settings, it is difficult for managers to provide feedback or mentor their employees as work can be given electronically and to-and-fro email conversations become tiresome..

Which Businesses and Industries are Best Suited for Hybrid Working?

Businesses where the main requirement is flexibility and those which want to reduce their overhead expenses are more likely to benefit from hybrid work models. Certain industries which can adopt this easily are finance, consultancy, IT, marketing, graphics and media as most of their work is computer-based and can be collaborated on digitally.

However, there are certain businesses which aren’t as suited for hybrid working as they require in-person services or employees to physically carry out their tasks. Examples can include in-store customer services, retail, manufacturing and hospitality.

Benefits of Hybrid Working for Employees

Hybrid working is also beneficial for employees in several ways.

  • Improved work–life balanceBy saving time of commuting, which can sometimes be long distances, employees can spend that time with their families or personal interests when working from home.
  • Reduced stressEmployees can be more relaxed and stress-free when working from home as they don’t have to commute or make regular lunch, be pressured by office rules, etiquette and attire and can work comfortably in a relaxed environment.
  • Flexibility with work hoursRemote working sometimes also comes with flexible working hours as to when an employee can clock in or out. In many cases, once employees are done with a particular day’s work, they can even clock out early.

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 progressBy giving performance reviews to employees based on their goal accomplishment and task achievement, they can be kept on track. It’s possible to do either remotely or on in-office work days
  • Live monitoring employee activityEmployee activity can be live monitored by using tools like screen trackers so that they use their office hours for office work to their advantage.
  • Use of software and toolsTracking of tasks and projects can be made simple by using software like Slack, Trello and Asana. It can even be used to provide feedback and exchange ideas.
  • Weekly or daily check-ins – Having regular check-ins with employees can keep them motivated, on track and are also helpful for managers to provide relevant training or suggestions.

In general, the focus in hybrid and remote working companies should be more on employee output than input. That is, instead of tracking how many hours employees work by using a time tracker, managers should look at the quality of work they submit and the results they produce. It is a much better way to evaluate employee performance.

Micromanaging, although tempting, can become an obstruction. Assessing every minute of the employee, checking whether they are working or using Facebook will lead to frustration and damage their morale and trust. 

Clear expectations should be set about what needs to be done, providing essential guidelines when necessary and allowing employees to work in the style which suits them, as long as they deliver favourable and profitable 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 Can help track how much employees spend time on completing their task and to monitor their performance by officials.
  • Project management softwareProvides a place for teams to assemble, organise and collaborate their projects. Members can be assigned tasks, set deadlines, checked for progress and share data in one place.
  • Video conferencing softwareTeams can stay connected and collaborate together without having to be in the same place.
  • Automated payrolling softwareThis software enables companies to pay their employees timely and accurately without having them fill in a time-sheet. A track of hours worked and possible tax deductions can also be tracked through this.
  • Cloud storage A cloud storage can securely store the files and enable employees to access them from anywhere. Everyone can stay up-to-date with the recent developments in a project and easily verify or modify tasks or files when required.

How to Get Started with Hybrid Working?

Before transitioning your business to a hybrid work setup, you need to talk to your employees. By understanding their preferences, expectations and suitable schedule, it will be much easier to foster a productive workforce even remotely. 

For example, some businesses might require their staff to be present at the office for a specific number or days per week or month, while others may adopt a more flexible approach.

Once all the options are discussed with employees, an assessment on which of all tasks and processes in a company are best suited for office, can be done at home or in teams or individually. This can help you devise a schedule that works for everyone, calculate the number of hours in remote work that should be allowed and to assign the hours and expectations fairly amongst the team.

Lastly, hybrid working expectations need to be clearly set out with the employees. You can create guidelines for communication and collaboration, for example, number of meetings to be done, access of files and data and security protocols around sharing information. Moreover, rules about taking breaks, leaves and holidays on workdays should also be specified.

By ensuring detailed considerations have been made, you can start a successful transition into hybrid working for your business and enjoy the benefits it offers.

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 remoteOne hybrid schedule that companies can opt for is calling the employees for 2 days in-office and letting them do 3 day remote work. This allows the employee to make the most of their in-office time, interacting with colleagues and discussing complex issues while also providing them the flexibility to work at their own pace and comfort through remote work. 

This is an interesting setup which takes into consideration the fluctuating responsibilities of an employees’ work and personal life. For example, if an employee is in charge of his/her children on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, he/she can work remotely those days and come into the office on Monday, Thursday and Friday.

  1. Alternating daysIn this setup, employees work alternative days in the office and the rest remotely. By doing this on a rotational basis, on odd days, 50% of the staff can be present in the office on odd days, taking the even days for remote work and the other 50% work on-site on even days and remotely on odd. This ensures that everyone in the office gets equal treatment to be able to work from home and can also help a company downsize their office space.
  2. Flexible hoursHaving a completely flexible attitude towards hybrid working hours is beneficial for companies which do not require every person to be present in the office at one time, for example sales staff or project-based teams. 

An employee can come to office anytime between 9 to 5 or on certain days only when absolutely required for meetings or collaboration on projects. This saves valuable time and unnecessary commute to office everyday.

Discussing these schedules with your employees can lead to a better understanding about which system works best for the company’s needs as well as for employees’ work-life balance. Even resorting to adopting multiple of these schedules is acceptable as long as all tasks and projects are completed timely and there’s proper collaboration within teams.

Final Thoughts

Businesses of all sizes and types can benefit from the highly effective and customizable hybrid working model. By ensuring that it is set up correctly, having clear expectations about work and deadlines from employees and implementing the right tools and software to coordinate remote work, a successful transition into work hybridity can be achieved. 

The key to success in business with this model is that everyone is fully onboard with this system and committed to professional advancement.

Trending

Related Stories

Most Read

Trending

If you enjoyed this article,
why not join our newsletter?

We promise only quality content, tailored to suit what our readers like to see!