Hybrid working. First off, let’s make clear what we’re talking about. No, it’s not the car, but rather a new way of working between home and office that’s exploded in popularity. Like a lot of these trends, the global pandemic has accelerated its adoption. However, unlike some of the others – we think this is one that’s here to stay.
In our recent State of Meetings report, we revealed that as many as 85 percent of people would like to keep the flexibility of working between home and office. For many organizations, this change will be a major cultural shift in how they work as well as creating the knock-on effect of possible changes to policies and practices.
Now, this might instantly raise red flags for businesses. Adoption of such a significant change could be seen as costly and likely place a greater demand on managers and senior leaders. However, there could be some major benefits that make any early investment worth it in the long run.
What does Hybrid Working offer for Employees?
In most of the polls conducted on hybrid working, there are several key things people say they like.
Flexibility: This is one of the biggest things that people like about remote working and has an additional advantage with a hybrid model. Say you’re a busy recruiter with two young children at home. Being able to work from home allows you the chance to spend time with the kids, get household chores done in between tasks and cut down on childcare bills.
However, sometimes you need to head to the office for some peace and quiet to get on with important meetings without children hanging to your leg or even just a little adult conversation rather than hours of kids TV. Hybrid working offers the best of both worlds.
Work/life balance: As the saying goes, ‘work to live, don’t live to work’. Okay, so it’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s exactly what many people have benefitted from through working from home. A survey by Flexjobs found that 73 percent of people had improved their work/life balance by adding remote working to their schedule.
Hybrid working brings together this greater work/life balance which in turn leads to less employee burnout but also enables employees to come to the office for important things that some employers want to do face-to-face. It offers a compromise. They can be there when they need to be but have work fit around their life when they don’t.
Productivity: This one can come from a combination of work/life balance and flexibility, but it also stands on its own. More balance and control in their lives leads to happier employees, remote and hybrid working offers this.
There’s more to it though. In a massive two-year survey of over 800,000 employees by Great Place to Work, most reported stable or increased productivity by working from home. Some have said that working from home on certain tasks means they can focus without distractions. Others have suggested that without commuting time people are more willing to work slightly longer to get things done. In all likelihood, it’s a combination of these and other factors.
Hybrid working lets employees decide where they can be most productive, improving the quality of the work they do.
What does Hybrid Working offer for Employers?
The major benefit for employers is that employees want it. In a recent study by Prudential, almost half of the 2,000 respondents said they would quit a job in favor of one that offers flexible working. This means for employers that want to stay competitive in the jobs market, but also not completely lose an office culture, hybrid working offers a solution.
Recruitment aside, there are also more practical reasons employers want to embrace hybrid working. More flexibility in how people work has been shown to help reduce stress as well as employee burnout. With less sickness, businesses have the manpower to focus on their goals.
There are also the cost benefits too. Like remote working, a hybrid model allows for companies to reorganize and potentially reduce workspaces. In fact, 35 percent of businesses plan to reduce office space this year. Of those companies, over two-thirds said they were doing so because of adopting a hybrid working model.
But what’s the downside?
On the surface, you’d think that hybrid working is the silver bullet we’ve all been searching for. However, it does come with bumps in the road – mainly more meetings and longer working days for most.
In our recent "Own your Time" survey, we found that nearly 70 percent of respondents reported an increase in meetings – with nearly 80 percent of these new meetings internal.
When asked about these new meetings, a whopping 74 percent of respondents said they ‘felt obligated’ to attend even if they had no time. For a lot of people, this meant extending their day to get work done.
The rise in internal meetings in a way is understandable. Unable to drop by someone’s desk to ask them a quick question, means scheduling a catch-up becomes a necessity. However, nearly two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) said they found it difficult to balance these internal meetings with client-facing, external ones.
Although these figures make remote and hybrid working sound cumbersome and demanding, a lot of people have said they don’t want to go back to a completely office-based role when the COVID pandemic is over. Research by technology company Barco found that 85 percent of people want a hybrid model.
A change in work culture could also help to reduce these meetings. For instance, adopting a tool like Doodle for scheduling could ensure that unnecessary time is not lost trying to get teams together for a chat. When there is a meeting using things like our Custom Questions tool could keep the meeting focused and productive.
Adopting more structured approaches to hybrid working could help to reduce the number of meetings people have and hopefully lead to less employee burnout.
So in a similar way to hybrid cars becoming a dominant feature in the automotive industry – a hybrid working model is also here to stay.
You can read it in full in our recent State of Meetings Report, we explored some of the ways meetings might look in the future.