The workplace is experiencing a revolution after 40 per cent of the global workforce has been working from home for the last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Employees now want a hybrid version, working between home and the office – the best of both worlds.
Companies need to accept and embrace the change in employees’ expectations and implement a hybrid working plan to meet the new demands and to grow their business.
Time for a re-think
Business leaders need to devise a hybrid working plan for flexible working, and this will also impact how they recruit and retain talent and respond to the changing world. It will need to be fluid and have the flexibility to change accordingly.
How to do hybrid
The plan for hybrid working needs to focus on people first, and businesses should ask the following questions:
- What roles can be done using a hybrid model?
- How many days do the hybrid workers need to be in the office?
- How many days does the business want them to be in the office from a space perspective?
- When an employee comes into the office, should they come with their immediate team too?
- Who can work remotely full time?
- Where do people work from in the office when they really need to focus?
- Where do people work from for collaboration meetings?
- Do the employees have the correct technology to support remote and hybrid working?
- Should businesses financially assist remote and hybrid workers?
Optimising your hybrid workforce
Companies need to ensure they have the right technology to enable employees to perform their job to the optimum. IDC revealed in their 2020 survey that more than 35 per cent said their organisation would accelerate the use of cloud. They agreed that cloud-based systems increased efficiencies, eased deployment, facilitated collaboration and enabled remote working.
It is also key that businesses' unified communications conferencing and collaboration solutions enable people to work from home and integrate with its front and back-office systems, so all operations, processes and customer service continues to run smoothly.
Tired of it
Microsoft revealed that 54 per cent of employees felt overworked and 39 per cent were exhausted by the abundance of digital interaction solutions they are constantly interacting with and sitting on video calls all day.
The aim is to increase and cultivate seamless collaboration, not to overwhelm your employees with digital interactions and video conference calls that will end up being unproductive.
Doing things differently
Managers now must give employees more choice and control as they have experienced freedom in a way they may never have before. Staff should be given the autonomy to get on with their jobs within their own schedules if possible; software solutions that measure their performance and KPIs can be deployed.
Re-designing the office
Microsoft research revealed that 66 per cent of business decision makers are considering re-designing their physical offices to accommodate hybrid working environments and create a better employee experience.
Offices are being re-designed with collaboration in mind, so when employees go in, there will be dedicated spaces for teams to work and collaborate in, rather than for individual working. However, they will also have to provide rooms for focused work and communal areas for socialising during breaks.
Embracing a new culture
A culture of transparency, creativity and empathy needs to be cultivated to produce energy, positivity and motivation to attract and retain talent. Creativity has been severely hindered over the last few months as we have all been working in isolation, but managers need to re-start the creative juices and encourage innovation amongst their teams.
This may be by introducing innovation hubs where employees are encouraged to share ideas and by implementing a growth mindset culture – one where they are not scared to fail – which can allow businesses to reap the benefits and add to a creative, energetic and motivated workforce.
In 2020, 40 per cent of the global workforce considered leaving their employer and on LinkedIn, remote job postings increased more than five times during the pandemic. This is because people have had a taste of remote working and flexibility and want more.
It is therefore critical that businesses implement a hybrid and flexible working approach to attract and retain talent.
The pandemic has been unthinkable, but it has also given us the time to reflect, evaluate and change. Businesses should use this opportunity to change their workplace for the better and introduce an effective hybrid working plan that is underpinned by a creative, energetic culture where they supply training and development and above all put their people first.
Jonathan Sharp is the director of Britannic Technologies