By Lucinda Pullinger, The Instant Group
Across every sector and every sized business, office based workers are wrestling with what their version of hybrid working is. Companies are working to find the balance to create hybrid working strategies that achieve the best results for both employees and the business. A business that helps employees to thrive will reap the benefits in terms of better business performance. The better the performance, the more profitable the results – creating a win-win situation for all.
Many business leaders believe that whilst productivity and relationships were maintained over the working from home period, this is off the back of the strength of pre-COVID relationships. To build new relationships takes a mixture of both face-to-face and remote communication. Because of this, the hybrid working model, where employees have a mix of working from home and in the office, has proven to be an efficient way to maintain the benefits of working from home, whilst also supporting the business and its client’s needs too.
With a skills shortage hitting many industries, employers are having to find ways to keep valuable members of employees happy and in many businesses, attrition is on the rise due to a very hot recruitment market. Hybrid working is proving to be an effective lever to pull to help support wellbeing, productivity and retention. By providing a hybrid working policy, businesses can widen their talent pool by employing people who live more than a daily commute away, considerably opening up the talent market.
With hybrid working now something that so many candidates see as a must-have benefit when applying for jobs, businesses risk losing out on some of the best talent by not offering this wherever possible. Of course, hybrid working will not be the only benefit that attracts and retains this talent. In fact, for some candidates, hybrid working will be seen as something every business should be doing, as opposed to a perk. Businesses also need to focus on their purpose as an organisation, career progression opportunities, wellbeing support, and the personal and professional development opportunities.
Whilst businesses should do all that they can to facilitate hybrid working, they must also consider those who prefer to work from an office space. An office space should still be available for employees to access collaborative spaces and face-to-face contact with colleagues. For managers, this face-to-face contact can be invaluable for the development and progression of the team. For some managers, booking in regular catch ups on a face-to-face basis will help ensure that employees are receiving the same level of support and mentoring as they would have been before working from home was introduced. Also, whereas the pendulum swung to the office being only for collaboration in the early days of the pandemic it is becoming clear that quiet space to focus on individual work is also a requirement of many employees. Some come to the office to access a space where they can concentrate, and others need somewhere to set down and focus on their own in between meetings. Designing the optimal office for your workforce will also ensure that when employees do come into the office, the design and environment of the workspace helps them to do their job and they will see the commute as worthwhile.
Whether businesses offer a structured hybrid policy whereby employees must be in the office on set days per week, or they offer a flexible policy, one thing for certain is that it must be mutually beneficial for all and shouldn’t be to the detriment of the business.
My main piece of advice for employers would be to adopt a “learn and evolve” mindset. The assessment of what a business needs will change over time and the dialogue with employees should also remain open in some form. By doing so, businesses will have the opportunity to adapt their approach to achieve the best results possible. When done correctly, there is no doubt that hybrid working can support and aid business development and growth.