Remote working is seen as an employee perk, despite its rise in popularity as the ‘new way of working’. So how can you introduce it to your office?
Business has been introduced to a glossary of updated terms over the past two years, from wellbeing to work-life balance. Hybrid working, however, has been a huge hit with employees.
For job seekers, hybrid working – combining home and office working for flexibility – is beginning to gain parity with salary, pension, and holidays, according to IWG’s research.
In this year’s job search, 88% of workers cited hybrid working as an influential factor. The scores for unlimited holidays and extended parental leave were both almost 10% lower.
Some firms, particularly those that perform physical labor, remain unsure about how to introduce this perk and deal with the challenges it poses.
You will learn how to design a flexible working policy, identify the biggest opportunities and threats, and ultimately increase staff satisfaction.
Why is having a flexible working policy so vital?
We see hybrid working as a reasonable compromise for workers. This is because they are able to take advantage of a social and collaborative work environment while still having time for their family and friends.
The benefits of keeping your workforce happy and motivated are obvious – but they’re particularly critical during this current talent shortage, which has made hiring more difficult.
As competition for new hires grows, job seekers are in a much stronger position.
In order to convince employees to sign up with your firm you’ll need to introduce smart incentives. The IWG’s research shows hybrid working is likely to be among the most persuasive.
How should a hybrid working arrangement look?
We reported earlier this year that, in a survey of 1,000 business owners, 45% planned to implement a hybrid working policy in the coming year.
However, few are aware of what it takes to introduce hybrid working into a remote or office-based team.
According to Indeed, the world’s largest job site, searches for ‘hybrid’ have increased by an astonishing 6,531% in the past year.
Clearly, it’s a topic people are curious about, as it’s one of the fastest growing search terms on their UK website.
Here are five key considerations when designing a hybrid working environment:
1. Current attitudes
Flexibility is at the heart of a hybrid working policy. Despite COVID-19 restrictions being lifted in the UK six months ago, many managers have yet to review or update their hybrid model.
It is possible that your current workforce is completely opposed to hybrid working. Depending on their preference, they may prefer to work in the office or work completely remotely.
Therefore, it is advisable to implement a hybrid working arrangement by first understanding their current attitudes.
Send out a survey to your employees. Gather information about your current model of working and what changes they would like to see.
Regardless of the outcome, we recommend that you prepare a hybrid work policy.
Your results may indicate that your staff is against hybrid working, but you might hire a new employee three months from now who absolutely needs it.
2. The impact on inclusion
During the pandemic, digital inequality was also uncovered. In spite of technological advancements, people’s personal technology budgets did not increase.
As a result, those with slower broadband access or outdated hardware were not able to be as productive or perform as well as they would have liked. This created an unequal playing field for career advancement.
The most effective way to minimise this risk is to provide home office equipment. Include the costs in your financial planning.
Hybrid workers should also undergo an induction process. Maintain strong working relationships with hybrid team members by assimilate them into company culture and values, and host remote events.
Here are more strategies to make your business’ hybrid policy more effective.
3. Management and performance
It will be more difficult to monitor your team’s efficiency if they work remotely on certain days.
In place of observing staff, managers must assess performance based on outcomes, contribution, and value.
This change raises a number of questions. It is crucial that your managers have the right equipment to manage performance this way.
Evaluate your current performance evaluation mechanisms. How often do you have catch-up meetings? Is there a way to address poor hybrid working?
Similarly, you’ll need to consider the impact on reward strategies. Recognition of outstanding work needs to be fair and not biased towards those spending more time in the office.
4. Disagreements in contracts
An employee’s contract is affected by any formal policy change at a company. In contrast, hybrid working can also be implemented on an informal basis without requiring any contract amendments.
Employees have a responsibility to ensure staff and managers are aware of the differences and the implications of each.
If hybrid-working is introduced informally, employees must be aware that the privilege can be withdrawn at any time.
The employee may also be subject to tax implications if they work remotely from outside the UK. An expert legal opinion is a smart way to make sure you are covered.
5. Channels of communication
When it’s conducted incorrectly, communication can be a potential risk area for hybrid working success.
An employee’s participation in the workplace, their training and development, and even the simple sharing of information between teams are affected by poor communication.
It would be advised that all meetings be hosted online in order to fend off any threats listed above. Every employee will have the same meeting experience and will be able to share their ideas equally.
More information on how to make video conferencing work can be found in our guide to video conferencing technology.
Let your teams decide how often to meet physically and how to communicate. Office ‘team days’ have become a popular solution.
In order to avoid staff members feeling ‘Zoomed out,’ companies should not overuse video conferencing technology.
Teamwork can be improved with chat-based messaging apps like Slack and Bitrix24 without unnecessary meetings.
If my business requires manual labor, what should I do?
Flexible working in the UK was still considered an innovative policy prior to the pandemic.
The pandemic, however, necessitated the adoption of cutting-edge technologies – like Microsoft Teams and Zoom – thus roles previously considered unsuitable for flexible work have crossed the threshold.
Businesses that employ a large number of ‘in-person’ workers such as warehouse managers and lab technicians may find hybrid working to be a helpful opportunity to allow staff to work remotely without compromising their productivity.
Determine the requirements of the role
On-site employees include loading gangs, drivers, warehouse workers, cleaners, and maintenance crews.
Hybrid working can be implemented in a variety of ways, where a company-wide approach might not be possible.
Another area where technology will be useful is in this area. HR representatives and site managers can automate many in-person tasks with small business project management software.
Access cloud-based time tracking using the Wrike platform, for example. Viewing employee hours remotely allows project managers to see who is working on-site during work hours and see all of the time logs.
Consider outsourcing IT
A number of physically-based companies have already assessed the number of warehouse workers they require on the floor at any given time.
An organisation with tech-savvy staff might invest in a centralised IT department with remote access to assets previously managed on site.
Their ability to access, diagnose, and fix computers, scanners, and printers remotely dramatically reduces the number of on-site team members required.
Allocate admin tasks to specific home-working days
You’re a business wholesaler who needs to perform a variety of tasks. Filing invoices is an administrative and computerized process. There are other duties that require you to be present at the depot, such as overseeing deliveries.
The most effective way to encourage staff to choose the most appropriate location to do their job on a daily basis is to group these tasks into a “work where it works” system.
During the pandemic, ASDA took this approach. The company’s employees may work from home, the head office, a store, or the depot, depending on the tasks they need to complete.
This approach emphasizes transparency. Close communication between manager and worker is essential if you want your staff to be left to their own devices.
In the foreseeable future, hybrid working will likely remain one of the most sought-after employee perks.
Hybrid working has many positive aspects, such as increased market competitiveness and employee satisfaction.
It’s just as critical to plan and prepare properly to avoid sprinting to a solution that actually requires a careful, measured approach.
In order to capitalize on the many benefits of a hybrid approach, you must first consider the potential stumbling blocks – like communication problems and contractual obligations.