We explore hybrid working and what it could mean for business
Whilst some people may feel excited to finally be heading back to the office to socialise with colleagues, bounce ideas off each other and bring back the all-important workplace culture, not everybody will want (or be able) to work from the office full time. So, what’s the alternative?
Join us as we delve into the subject of ‘hybrid working’ and catch up with workplace design expert, Dr Helen Hughes from the University of Leeds, to share some of her expert advice on what hybrid working could mean for your business.
What is hybrid working?
Simply put, hybrid working is a type of flexible working which allows employees to either work from the office or remotely.
Hybrid working isn’t a brand-new concept in the business world. However, it’s a phrase that’s gained more interest since the pandemic began. According to YouGov, 68% of British employees had never worked from home before COVID-19. But now, 57% of employees would like the option to work flexibly at least some of the time. This is where hybrid working comes in.
Why are businesses implementing hybrid working?
Before the pandemic, many employees didn’t have passionate views on remote working. Office life was just the norm.
However, now that people have tasted some of the benefits of working from home, as well as the pang of missing their office environment, new preferences about working location have begun to bubble up to the surface.
This is why some businesses have chosen to implement a hybrid working strategy. With a hybrid working model in place both employers and employees can choose the working style that suits them best.
Considerations before you implement hybrid working
Employing hybrid working into your business is no mean feat. CIPD says: “There is no single way to implement hybrid working, and its exact form is likely to vary from organisation to organisation”. This is because no two employees are the same. People have unique opinions, varying levels of technology, different office spaces – the list goes on…
Top tips for implementing a hybrid working strategy
To get an expert’s take on hybrid working, we spoke to Dr Helen Hughes, Associate Professor at The University of Leeds who specialises in workplace relationships, as well as job and work design.
Dr Helen Hughes said:
“It is really important to remember that everyone has had a different experience over the last 18 months. While the idea of returning to the workplace is really exciting for many colleagues, for others it will be a really daunting experience – after all, we have been continually told that social interaction and being around other people is dangerous, and this sense of danger may take time to change for some people.
Our research has identified several things that organisations can do to help:
- Engage with staff – Feeling that you have been listened to and involved in the design of offices or other organisational change programmes has been consistently shown to help staff buy-in to change and make it a success. This is more than just ‘doing comms’ and involves genuine engagement with employees and responding to their needs.
- Recognise that everyone has had a different experience over the last 15 months – Build flexibility into your return programmes so that staff can take it at their own pace. Seeing colleagues return safely will also build confidence in those unsure.
- Make the most of the opportunity that the disruption has created – Habits have been broken and the office routines and ways of working will not be as entrenched as they were. Consider which positive behaviours and ways of working you want to encourage and help your staff to embed new habits by communicating and reinforcing these.
- Don’t rush this process or design large scale changes in haste – Be open with your employees and show them that this is a journey. Gather data, talk to staff, experiment and learn what works best for your organisation and workers. Be prepared to change as people settle into new routines.
- Build in technological resilience and adaptability – regardless of your plans moving forward, there is a high likelihood that we will be faced with natural disasters and significant health threats in the future. Introducing policies, technology, and equipment to support all forms of working (in the office, at home, or hybrid), can facilitate smoother work practice transitions if needed in the long run.
- Consider new starters – those who are new to the organisation may have different views than your existing staff. Understand that their needs and concerns may be unique to joining within a pandemic and may not have been considered within your existing plans.
Listen to Dr Helen Hughes’ podcast on this for more: What will the office look like post-pandemic? in Adapting offices for the future of work. See bitly.com/adaptingoffices for more top tips based on the research in this area.
How can you upgrade your office spaces to meet employee needs?
Dr Helen Hughes said:
“If organisations want the changes they make to be successful, they need to know how their employees are responding to them, and how these changes are influencing the performance of their teams and organisations. Many people will presume the workspace they are returning to will be much like the one they left, when in reality the new infrastructure and culture of the workplace might be very different. People that you used to lunch with and those who you rely on for sounding out work problems may now be working in the office on different days to you, so it’s important that we don’t just presume that the benefits we got from ‘water cooler’ conversations will just resume as they were pre-Covid. We need to design them into the workplace. This takes careful consideration and planning and will be affected by the organisation and quantity of space, as well as the choices made around working arrangements.”
How is Wellington Place catering to hybrid working?
Whether you’re still working from home or dusting off your pass ready to return to the office, we have plenty of exciting events waiting for you at Wellington Place. From virtual chair yoga and wellbeing webinars to a brand-new outdoor games area and street food vendors in Tower Square – you’re spoilt for choice! Just sign up to our e-newsletter, Parklife, and you’ll be kept in the loop.
Plus, after a long stint working from home, we know just how important the outdoors and green spaces are. That’s why we’re investing over £1 million into our public realm! If anyone needs to step away from their desk, take a walk, or even set up an impromptu al fresco meeting in the landscaped gardens, you’re more than welcome.
We’re focused on creating a workplace that people want to return to, so if you have any suggestions that you think might help, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our thanks to Dr Helen Hughes for taking part in this blog post.