As the COVID pandemic began to take over the world in the beginning of 2020, offices were forced to shut, leaving employees no choice other than to work from home. With technological resources such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams taking over and allowing employees to communicate and work together effectively, it became clear that working from home could be the ‘new normal.’
Employees have adapted to this new era of remote working, with a study showing 46.6% of the UK workforce were working from home by April 2020. It has also proven to be hugely popular, with 84% of the UK workforce supporting remote working and wanting to continue it in some form after the pandemic.
However, some workers haven’t taken to remote working and miss the social interaction of being in the office rather than being stuck at home. They have found there are many drawbacks to remote working, such as loneliness, working longer hours and it having an overall negative impact on their mental health.
Therefore, with restrictions easing off and offices beginning to reopen, companies have started to introduce a more flexible-working arrangement to allow their employees to work in the environment they feel they work best in. This is now known as the Hybrid Work Model. This structure allows employees to have more autonomy over deciding where they wish to work, helping them to achieve a better work-life balance.
Hybrid working is essentially a combination of office working and working from home, giving employees the best of both worlds. It was originally enforced as a way of complying with social distancing measures, however with employees in favour of this new found freedom, hybrid working is being incorporated into organisations world-wide. Large companies around the world such as Amazon, Shopify and Microsoft are leading the way with their plans for hybrid working, encouraging smaller companies to follow suit. As every organisation is run differently, a company’s hybrid working policy may vary from workplace to workplace. This means that there are a number of different variations to the hybrid working model.
Companies may decide that employees can work remotely for the majority of their job and will only need to come into the office if required or for a face-to-face meeting. Tobi Lütke, CEO of the global e-commerce platform Shopify, released a statement on Twitter announcing that they are now a ‘digital by default company’ and that ‘most employees will permanently work remotely.’ Many companies are choosing to take this shift due to technology advancements allowing employees to easily stay connected.
Another variation of hybrid working that companies may choose to adopt is where employees choose where and how they want to work. This could be 2 days remote working and 3 days in the office, or alternating between remote and office-based work every other week. If a company has the correct COVID measures in place in the office and employees feel safe enough to return, then they may choose to do so. Earlier this year, Salesforce, the number one CRM platform, revealed their plan to change how their employees will work in the future based on the results of an employee wellbeing survey they conducted.
As a result, they’re giving employees the flexibility to choose where they want to work depending on what works best for them. Brent Hyder, the President and Chief People Officer of Salesforce, stated that ‘an immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers; the 9-5 workday is dead.’ He also believes that hybrid working is the ‘next evolution of our culture’, with organisations all over the world implementing this working plan.
So, why is hybrid working so popular?
People have discovered the benefits of working from home during the pandemic and want to incorporate it into their working futures. Hybrid working allows employees to have more control over their life so they are able to create a healthy working balance which fits around their personal schedule. With less time spent commuting backwards and forwards to work, they are able to make time for other important responsibilities in their lives, such as family life and hobbies.
Another factor that makes hybrid working so desirable is that people aren’t just limited to their house when remote working; it gives employees the option to work wherever they are in the world. This freedom has a positive affect on people’s mental health and wellbeing and is shown to decrease stress levels and burn-out.
Hybrid working doesn’t just benefit the employees. If the policy is implemented well within an organisation, the company can greatly benefit as well.
The most significant outcome of a hybrid working model that companies can benefit from is a reduction in costs. With less people in the office at one time, companies can save money by reducing their office space and the cost of utilities. In 2019, absences and illnesses in the workplace relating to stress and mental health issues cost British Businesses around £26 billion. With a healthier work-life balance, hybrid working helps to minimise time off work due to illness, therefore reducing costs for absence and sickness.
There have also been numerous reports to suggest that adopting a hybrid working model leads to increased productivity in employees as they are working in the environment that suits them best. They are also more likely to focus and get the work done quicker as they feel more relaxed and have less distractions and noise around them all the time.
Hybrid working seems to be the new future of work. A hybrid model will mean that a company will need to invest time in communicating with all staff to monitor performance and to ensure that a company culture is maintained for it to work well. It shows that the company cares about its employees and their wellbeing, therefore increasing job satisfaction and productivity. Although implementing a hybrid working model within a business can be complex and may take a lot of consideration, it can be a positive change for both the business and the employees.