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The emergence of hybrid working is one of the most obvious impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even as we break away from restrictions that were imposed by the government, hybrid working has become the new normal.
So, what is hybrid working, and how has it impacted the future of the UK’s workforce?
Hybrid working is a flexible working format that enables employees to split their time between the office and home working. The introduction and blend of remote working with traditional working has proved popular with both staff members and business owners.
With the option to work without geographic restrictions companies can hire further afield and choose from a wider pool of potential candidates. Hybrid working has changed the way that we view work schedules and how it benefits companies and employees.
The hybrid working model certainly isn’t a new one. Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 approximately 32% of the population had ever worked from home. However, with the restrictive nature of the pandemic hybrid working has now become the norm.
March 2020 marked the shift toward flexible working as companies scrambled to create new working models that kept productivity as high as possible while also protecting their staff. Industries that would otherwise require their employees to work onsite found that they had to embrace the now mainstream work from home model.
Over time companies have had to split their workforces. New social distancing measures meant many could only use half their available space. This translated to fewer employees working in the office at one given time.
With restrictions easing and the world slowly returning to normal it’s safe to say that hybrid working is here to stay. With teleconferencing technologies and cloud-based software, we can now effectively work both in and out of the office.
Employees’ expectations have changed over time with some preferring the option of working in the office or at least having the opportunity to. With many people experiencing the challenges of not having a dedicated office space, distractions and the unsocial aspects of home-based working it’s no wonder that hybrid working was introduced.
Plenty of companies have permanently adopted a hybrid working model and adapted their office spaces to suit. From global conglomerates such as Google and Apple to small businesses, companies have acknowledged the benefits of hybrid working. The pandemic has proved that flexible working is possible and that we should embrace the possibilities that it brings.
Hybrid working arguably brings together the best of both worlds. It allows staff to choose how much time they spend in either location. However, some companies request a minimum number of days spent in the office.
Here are some of the biggest benefits of the hybrid working model.
Improved Staff Satisfaction
It’s no secret that commuting to work is stressful, particularly when we’re required to do so 5 days a week. When employees have the option to reduce the number of days that they are in the office it can reduce tension and boost their desire to come into work.
The flexibility that hybrid working offers often means that employees gain more autonomy. With increased decision making and trust from employers, staff members have experienced a rise in their satisfaction levels.
Less time commuting means that employees have more time in the day to work, as a result, efficiency and output are increased. A recent study found that working from home 1 day a week boosted productivity by 4.8%.
Literature on this topic attributes this increase to the reduced cost of travelling, better work-life balance and the convenience of working in an environment that is chosen by the employee.
Improved Mental Health
Flexibility over working conditions has a positive impact on mental health. In one survey, 34% of respondents stated that hybrid working would improve their mental health. The mix of working from home and in the office provides the social balance that most employees need.
Full remote working reduces social interactions, which can create feelings of isolation and a negative impact on mental health. As a result, some workplaces are redesigning their office spaces to feel more social which puts workers in a happier mood.
Reduction in Costs
With new occupancy levels in offices, companies can plan for the shift in work patterns and cut down costs of rent, office supplies and other expenses. By moving from an office that is designed for the standard 9 to 5 to a new space that embraces the changes that flexible working brings businesses can benefit financially.
Many companies are choosing to lease new offices that have a mix of relaxed lounge areas, desks and informal spaces. As such many are looking toward serviced offices to accommodate their needs or managed spaces that they can tailor.
Government bodies and researchers have conducted studies into the hybrid working model. Their findings have outlined the changing attitudes toward flexible working, leading to many employers adjusting their views on synchronous and asynchronous work schedules.
So, what does the UK workforce think about hybrid working?
It has received an overwhelmingly positive response in favour of the hybrid working model. An ONS survey found that 85% of respondents wanted a hybrid working model in the future.
According to YouGov, perceptions of hybrid working had improved. The survey of 1,000 business decision-makers concluded that only a fifth would require their workers to come into the office 5 days a week, as opposed to the initial response of 1 in 3.
It found that once restrictions were lifted, 19% of business owners were happy for staff to choose which days they want to come in. These statistics are a clear indication of the positive stance toward hybrid working considering how uncommon flexible working options were before 2020.
Another YouGov survey of 2,000 workers found that 79% wanted at least 2 days of remote working a week. In short, responses to a hybrid working model are positive among both staff and business decision-makers.
The effects of the pandemic will stay with us for a long time to come. While some aspects will fade away, many will remain with us. However, hybrid working is a positive aspect that has resulted in a more productive and fulfilled workforce.
By combining the best of the office and remote working, companies can improve their organisations and create a new vision that brings success, increased collaboration and improved wellbeing.