7th Oct 2020
What is Hybrid Working? And How Can Your Workplace Design Support it?
Hybrid working is being used more and more to describe the way that lots of office-based businesses have been working this year. But what does it mean? And how can it benefit your business?
The events of this year have given us a chance to rethink how we work. The recognition that people can work more flexibly than previously thought calls all sorts of things into question, not least office design and workplace culture!
Research by Adecco Group found that 77% of employees would prefer hybrid working, and 79% thought it was important that their employer implemented more flexibility in how and where they could work.
This makes it crystal clear that trying to steer things back to exactly how they were before is short-sighted. We need to recognise that things have changed, and that staying agile – or ‘hybrid’ – is often the key to success for our people and our businesses.
So what is hybrid working?
Similar to agile working, hybrid working is designed to give people the freedom and flexibility to work when and how they feel is best. This isn’t just about company culture, processes, resources or office design, it’s about all of these things.
Like our opinion on ‘going agile’, we believe that hybrid working has its place in helping companies boost employee wellbeing and productivity.
Over the course of this year many businesses have toyed with ‘going remote’ and asked how they can make this work for their people. The truth is that any one solution is unlikely to suit your whole team.
Some people will prefer to work from home as they have the benefit of a nice home office. Others will prefer the surroundings of the company office, or enjoy the time their commute gives them to get ready for the day ahead.
Embracing hybrid working can help with this. It’s about three things; understanding what resources your people need to work well at home and in the office, providing these resources, and empowering them to use them as and when they need to so that they’re working lives become better.
In practical terms, it’s about striking a balance between remote working and office working based on what works best for your people.
How do you make hybrid working a success in your business?
1. Create a culture of trust
Mutual trust in a hybrid working environment is critical.
Before the pandemic, many employers thought that remote working meant their team wouldn’t complete the same standard or amount of work if they were left to their own devices.
But giving ownership and trusting people to manage their workload and contribute, even when not in the office, is absolutely key.
Many companies were pleasantly surprised by the work that could be done remotely. And we’re willing to bet that these companies were the ones that already had that culture of trust.
Of course, this starts with an example from the company itself. So it’s important to ensure people feel empowered, safe and protected in their jobs, whether they prefer to work at home or in the office.
2. Communicate clearly
Communication is always an important part of creating a positive workplace culture, but even more so when your team are working from different locations.
Technology can certainly help to make communication between those in the office and those at home easier, with tools like Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams. But don’t let it replace safe face-to-face communication where possible.
Human interaction is a fundamental human need and the positive impact it can have on wellbeing shouldn’t be underestimated!
3. Listen to your people
Various surveys have revealed that most people want to be back in the office, but not full time. That doesn’t mean to say all employees feel the same. It’s important to listen to your people find out what makes them feel safe at such an uncertain time, and facilitate accordingly (within reason!).
If some of your people feel safer working from home, ensure they have the tools they need to do this effectively, whether that be something as simple as a desk chair, or instant messaging software on their work laptop, like Slack. If some of your team feel they’ll work better in the office, try to facilitate this for them too. Following all the latest regulations and guidance, of course.
We’ve got more advice on how you can accommodate a safe return to the office for your people here.
4. Set clear objectives and processes
We all know that objectives and processes in business are important. Otherwise, how does everyone know what they’re aiming for?
Processes are individual to every business, and you’ll probably have already adapted yours somewhat over the past few months. But remember to revisit them in light of changing circumstances. To make the most of hybrid working, your processes will need to support those working from home and those in the office.
This may take the shape of investing in new technology to allow for seamless video calling between several locations. Or using modular furniture that can easily be moved as and when the guidelines on working safely change.
Ready to go hybrid?
A shift to hybrid working will help your business to shift out of ‘survival mode’ and adapt to a new way of working, so you can thrive.
Our team of experienced designers create agile workspaces that look after peoples’ needs so that they can work to the best of their ability.
If you’re ready to transform your workplace culture, get in touch for a chat, or fill out the form below to book a free workplace assessment.