Hybrid Working: seven steps for flexible working anywhere in the UK from 2021
On the final furlong at last! UK Freedom Day, as it's being coined in the UK, is marked as the day we’ve all been waiting for, the lifting of all lockdown controls across the country. Forget the term 'work from home' or office-based and start talking about hybrid working.
By Sonia Older
23 August 2021, UK
What is hybrid working?
People working from home more than doubled as a result of the pandemic. The traditional 9-5 office-based business model is under the spotlight with many employers questioning whether it’s a thing of the past, whilst others are scrutinising the pitfalls of working remotely. If balance is key, is hybrid working the future?
Time to discover a happy medium? The latest business buzzword is ‘hybrid working’ – providing businesses and employees with the opportunity to strike that perfect balance between office-based and home working. Now’s the time for businesses to consider both the concerns and the solutions available.
How should you go about implementing flexible working arrangements?
To ensure a successful hybrid workplace, it’s important to prepare when implementing flexible working arrangements. To help, we’ve put together this list of seven simple steps to help ensure your employees feel supported and valued, wherever they’re working whilst your business continues to operate productively.
1. Flexibility and the hybrid model of partnership working
Some employees will jump at the chance to work from home for a day or two, whether that’s to reduce time spent commuting, focus on projects away from the inevitable office distractions or simply to improve work-life balance. Others will jump at the chance to escape the confines of their kitchen tables, re-engage with colleagues and feel an integral part of the business culture.
The hybrid model of partnership working is completely reliant on offering flexibility to your teams - both in terms of location and hours, which gives employees feeling a sense of empowerment and trust. And in turn, feeling valued can inspire a culture of motivation – with a focus on output and productivity rather than set hours. Plus, the average worker spends 62 minutes a day commuting to and from their place of work. By offering remote working, or flexible start times, you’re allowing that time to be used more effectively and immediately improving work-life balance and employee well-being.
Recent research by the CIPD looked into flexible working through the pandemic and found that 71% of firms reported no loss of productivity during a year in lockdown. A third had even seen an increase. However, you should also make sure your employees are taking regular breaks and have everything they need to work comfortably.
Looking after well-being is vital and has a positive impact on productivity. Companies may however also feel remote working leads to a lack of insight when it comes to employee productivity, which is where innovative tools such as Teramind prove invaluable. Used correctly, this software will protect employees and data, optimise processes and maximise productivity.
Did you know there’s a direct link between the choice of equipment and productivity levels? Providing a monitor to an employee’s remote working environment, for example, can increase their productivity by up to 40%. A dual monitor set-up can increase productivity by as much as 60%! To make a flexible hybrid working model succeed, you need to support every person’s hardware needs and provide the tools that enable them to be productive at the office, at home and on-site.
Your network infrastructure and security are key to productivity, efficiency and growth so now is the time to ensure your business framework is optimised and maintained at all times. Perhaps time to consider a FREE IT Health Check?
The biggest challenge businesses have faced has been maintaining collaboration and encouraging innovation when people aren’t communicating face-to-face. Working on one core platform, like Microsoft Office 365 for all internal communications is one solution and it removes the need for multiple solutions, which can complicate communications and disrupt workflow.
Working on a single platform means your teams can perform a huge portion of their daily work all in one place – whether that’s syncing calendars, holding video meetings, discussing projects using the chat function or sharing files. In the workplace itself, if less desks are needed on a permanent basis, could some areas of the office be transformed into breakout zones to promote greater collaboration?
It’s reported there was an attempted cyber attack every 46 seconds on businesses across the UK in 2020, the chilling result of a 20% rise in security threats. Cyber crime soared as result of the global pandemic and the exponential rise in remote workforces, connected and operating through cloud-based platforms.
So, it’s essential that a move to a hybrid workforce is fully supported by a full assessment of any weaknesses in your network to ensure your resilience against cyber crime. Security awareness and training for all employees will also ensure vigilance across your business. Our cyber security experts are here to help, just give us a shout.
Hybrid working is based on effective communication and critical to success. It’s also the highest risk area. Communication is key to information flow, customer service, team working, knowledge building and project management.
As casual communication in the office is reduced, more emphasis needs to be placed on regular connection opportunities – both casual, using chat functions or quick check-ins with colleagues, and more formal scheduled video meetings.
Regular human connection opportunities should also be built into the schedule, ensuring the whole team come together in person to support employee engagement and team building. For your customers, it goes without saying that channels of communication should be open and seamless, wherever your employees are working. A cloud based phone system enables total flexibility, reliability and agility, whilst allowing you to stay connected with your customers anytime and from anywhere.
Having a set schedule of office and remote days can help with planning. Most of us at work are calendar-driven so it’s important to have predictable times when people know they’ll be able to see you and your team.
Use office-based time for ‘connective tasks’ – meetings, presentations, brainstorms and so on. The decks are then clear for those more productive or creative tasks that require the headspace and a greater level of concentration which working from home facilitates.