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Why hybrid working will die this year

By No Comments6 min read

Well of course the practice won’t die but the term itself will cease to hold its relevance as something peculiar, something odd.

We are drawn to terminology though, aren’t we? We put our work practices and procedures into neat, labelled boxes as a form of surety, avoiding the risk of unwelcome surprises. However, if the last few years have shown us anything it is to be prepared for a surprise or two.

Perhaps 2023 will be the year in which the term ‘office based’ becomes a term considered at odds with our ways of working in 2023 and beyond.

All we can say for sure is that there is no going back to the way we used to work before the events of 2020 steered us from our ‘normal’ path.

In this blog we look at some of the most important issues arising out of YOHO’s research into Hybrid Working practices…… and of the concerns of UK companies to get the best from their people, increase employee motivation and productivity and their company’s Performance.

“Over the next 2 years, 48% of the total workforce will work in a mobile or hybrid fashion.” (LinkedIn 2022)

How prevalent is Hybrid Working?

There are three main types of workers globally. The first are those who are tethered and constantly work in a single location, such as a hospital, retail store, or manufacturing facility.

These workers make up 52% of the workforce. The second type is the nomad. These employees, who make up 21% of the workforce, must frequently work on the move and include delivery drivers and field service workers.

Hybrid employees are those who spread their time between remote and dedicated work locations. This group makes up 27% of the workforceSource OMDIA 2022 report (“The Future of Work: Optimizing Hybrid for 2023”

Why don’t we all just return to the office?

According to docusign (2022) – 80% of UK business owners say that flexible working is key to the future success of their businesses

There has been much opinion from the UK media, commentators, and the government (Jacob Rees-Mogg’s April 2022 statement insisting on a return to the civil service office is a prime example!) as to whether we should all just go back to work as if nothing seismic had happened to our routines over the last three years.

Some believed that the initially enforced and latterly chosen path of remote and hybrid working was a mere hiccup before we all settled down to the real business of just pulling ourselves together and returning to the office.

It’s now clear that this is simply not going to be the case. Hybrid Working (or simply another form of Flexible Working as we will come to know it) is here to stay. Businesses face a range of new challenges in this new work order that require considered but rapid solutions in order to adapt and thrive. Not to mention avoid losing existing employees and to attract new talent.

How important is Hybrid working to my employees?

It may be worth employers looking at the major shift in employee expectations around remote and hybrid working. We ignore this at our peril!! People are now actively looking for work that is specifically Remote or Hybrid based – The term “remote jobs” in now searched for over 18,000 times per month in the UK on Google – a 410% increase over the last 5 years. (Source. Google 2022)

Offering Remote or Hybrid positions has become an almost essential benefit for employers to offer, with 64% of UK recruiters saying that “being able to pitch a work-from-home policy to candidates helps them find high-quality talent.” (Source Standout CV 2022)

Clearly, offering staff the chance to work from home on occasion may not be sufficient to motivate them.

It is worth us all considering how best to accommodate flexible working patterns. These ways of working can provide greater flexibility outside of traditional office hours or days, but we must be aware of the potential impact on productivity and individual well-being as employees become accustomed to new ways of working.

“More than half — 54% — of organizations believe employee productivity has improved with the move to more mobile and hybrid work styles.” (“The Future of Work: Optimizing Hybrid for 2023”)

What constitutes a good remote or hybrid work model?

To achieve success with flexible working, productivity and performance goals must be clearly established. However, productivity should not come at the expense of employees’ well-being.

Managers may be able to promote an understanding of the new model by being mindful of individual needs and providing patience and support. This means team members feeling confident enough to communicate their workloads, workload capacity, personal situations, and other productivity-related matters on a regular basis.

Managers may find it helpful to demonstrate empathy by working with each of the employees in their charge on a one-on-one basis to ensure productivity without sacrificing their well-being. This will help to foster successful team collaboration in any work setting.

Most businesses — 58% — are encouraging a hybrid return to office.” Only 36% are adopting a position where leadership is mandating a return to office in line with pre-pandemic patterns. (“The Future of Work: Optimizing Hybrid for 2023”)

What’s the first step to achieving a harmonious Hybrid model?

A review and rethink of current workplace norms will help ensure that all parties benefit from new work arrangements. HR will need to be agile and open to trial and error to calibrate the new work cultures for a better employee experience without loss of organisational productivity. It is only a matter of time before companies realise that adding workplace flexibility is not merely an HR need but also an evolving journey for the business and its staff.

Consideration could be given to exploring more flexible shift patterns such as staggered start times and extended lunch breaks to help with morale and productivity whilst allowing staff more autonomy in managing their own time effectively. Furthermore, initiatives such as offering a four- day week and offering structured and bespoke benefits packages, are more likely to attract talented professionals who value work-life balance over a higher salary.

What are some of the issues I should pay most attention to?

According to data from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN)- Office for National Statistics, most people who took up remote working because of the pandemic plan to do hybrid work in the future. Organisations are preparing for the blended working model, reimagining physical spaces to support the workforce. In addition, they are adopting technologies to connect people from anywhere.

Establishing boundaries between “work time” and “personal time” is important, as well as having a dedicated workspace (where possible) and instituting set work hours. As part of optimising your remote or hybrid work model you may want to consider your team’s social, physical, and mental well-being, developing strategies such as check-ins with each other, breaks from looking at screens, and team building activities to help people stay connected while still optimising productivity.

Can YOHO help me?

If you are experiencing any of the workplace challenges mentioned above, we certainly can! If you’d like to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog or indeed any other workplace issues relating to the well-being of your staff, their productivity and your company performance why not take advantage of our extensive research and knowledge of the workplace issues facing UK business by requesting a free 30 -minute consultancy call.