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Are remote and hybrid working a problem … or a solution to a problem?

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How do I strike the right balance between in office and remote working?          

Finding the right balance between office-based and remote working for your business and your staff needs careful consideration and access to the right data and employee insights.  It can be a tough equation.

We explore this in more detail in our blog post on the question but below are a few key headlines.

1. Use Employee Pulse Surveys

Ensure you have an understanding of the way your staff feel about working in, and away from, the office, their working environments in the office and at home and how they perform in each location

2. Start with a clear objective

The objective of the surveys is NOT to collate a long list of issues or tasks for the company to action, it is to identify trends in feelings and what is needed to ensure continued staff wellbeing and productivity in support of business goals – so policies can be adapted where needed

3. Be aware

When making your ‘company office’ and ‘remote working’ decisions, be aware of the full range of factors influencing where and how we all work , not least:

– The cost and availability of real-estate

– The potential for future Government lock-down mandates

– The availability of skilled workers and supply chain challenges since Brexit

– Industrial action affecting commuter routes

– Increases in the cost of living, of fuel, of running a home and child care

– Threats to our power grid due to energy supply challenges

– Staff access to reliable high speed internet connections when working remotely

Staff retention and attrition has a direct bearing on the fortunes of a business as does the ability to attract and hire the best talent. Employees have a choice who they work for. Companies who make the effort to understand their situation and preferences will always be the most attractive employers.

4.Communicate and update your policy

Whether you decide to tell your employees they must all work full time from company premises, to offer them flexibility to work part of the time from home, or to mandate that certain functions must work from home at least (say) 2 days a week (due to workspace capacity limitations?), communicate your policy clearly and publish it to everyone. Treat the policy as a living document and update as often as necessary to allow for changes in circumstances and business pressures.

In short, your policy must align with the specific needs of your business and of your staff, to ensure they can work efficiently whilst staying physically and mentally healthy – and productive.

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What questions should a business ask before going hybrid?

Hybrid working has become increasing popular in recent years – it combines elements of both remote and in-office work. Potential benefits include reductions in office real estate (and associated operational) costs, greater flexibility for employees to find a better work-life balance and access to a wider national / global talent pool.

However, the model does not work for all businesses and needs careful consideration. Again, we explore this in further detail in the Blog section of our website but below are 4 questions to ask before you make your decision;

  1. Firstly, is hybrid working right for your organization?
    Review the different functions across your business – what type of work can be done remotely without risk to quality or delivery timescales and what type of work requires face-to-face interaction or tools, systems and machinery only available at company premises?
  2. Secondly, how do your employees feel about the opportunity or mandate(?) to work remotely?
    Employee interests, preferences and circumstances (e.g., family and living arrangements) are all factors in both productivity and wellbeing; are your staff comfortable working in a hybrid model, or would they prefer to stick with one type of work arrangement and work from the same location with access to the same facilities and environment every day? If so, is this something your office real estate plan can accommodate? If not, and you need to mandate that staff work from home part of the time, what happens if they don’t have the necessary setup to be productive at home (e.g., secure space for all their work technology and files, a place they can work safely without interruption, reliable access to fast Wi-Fi etc.)?
  3. Do your managers know how to manage teams working remotely?
    People behave differently face to face and working in proximity to colleagues than they do via video conferencing or phone – managing and motivating staff remotely is a skill. Do your managers have these skills or is some up-skilling needed?
  4. What are the financial implications of remote working for my business?
    There are several financial implications of hybrid working. Home working can save companies outlay on office real estate and associated operating costs – but setting up and supporting a hybrid workplace also involves outlay and impacts hidden costs such as productivity, if not handled well.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether or not a business should adopt a hybrid work model – and, working from home does have personal financial impact for staff, both positive and negative depending on their circumstances. But, by asking the right questions, understanding implications and exploring options, companies can make informed decisions and minimise risk.

How do I manage teams now that they are remote and/or hybrid?

Per above, managing remote teams requires a particular skill set. This is a subject we have researched and explore in more detail in our blog section but the starting point is to look at the nature of the work your staff do.

Financial staff typically have a clear mandate which changes slowly, their deliverables are easy to track, they often work in relative isolation using systems and tools that can easily be accessed remotely. By contrast, marketing teams collaborate closely, spark off each other creatively and thrive on face-to-face interaction and confirmation of the value of their input.

Staff circumstances, job functions, behaviours and needs are diverse – none more so than when working remotely. Your employees are your greatest asset and have a significant bearing on the performance of your business. Getting the most out of your workers means catering for each of these aspects when managing them.

Start by periodically surveying your employees, setting clear expectations by publishing your workplace policy and ensure your line managers have the necessary skills to manage their teams remotely.

Video text transcript (excluding videos and images):

Are remote and hybrid working a problem … or a solution to a problem?

Hello and thank you for joining me today.I’m Grant Price from YOHO and I’m here to answer your … ‘Question of Work’.

Today’s is from Robert, who asks a fundamental question: “What is a workplace strategy?” Well Robert it’s not that complicated. But it is a new way of looking at work.
Deloitte nicely captured the answer …. The change started a while back …. but the pandemic gave it a MAJOR jolt YOHO’s research uncovered that companies are improving their real estate returns by as much as 50 per cent – by flexing the way they use their office space. And mobile technology now enables access and collaboration anytime – from anywhere.

Employees are enjoying greater flexibility to work where they want ……. and employers are being rewarded with greater productivity and access to a bigger talent pool But …. the option to work face-to-face remains vital – not least when forging new client relationships or collaborating on complex projects.

Forward thinking companies are investing in the latest innovations … artificial intelligence, data analytics and chatbots – to name but a few.

Things are changing fast in the New Work Order – keeping ahead means staying abreast of change and reacting quickly to new risks and opportunities.

At YOHO we’re experts in what makes an effective workplace strategy. To learn more, why not book a free 30-minute consultation with me by clicking the link above.