63% of businesses are introducing hybrid working over the next 6-12 months (CIPD).
Staff want and expect it from their employers, and most businesses have been quick to agree.
- But what is hybrid working?
- How do you know if you should do it?
- And how do you get it right?
That’s what we’ll look at now.
Let’s get started.
What does ‘hybrid working’ mean?
‘Hybrid working’ is a new term for businesses that let their staff work part at home and part in the office (e.g three days a week at home and two days in the office).
Usually, employers ask their staff to work in the office between 6-8 days a month. The rest of the time, they’re free to work from home or the office (depending on what they prefer).
But just because your staff want hybrid working isn’t reason enough to agree. There’s a lot to consider.
What you need to consider with hybrid working
Life seems quite ‘back to normal’, doesn’t it?
Arts and music venues are open, live sports is back on and clubs are open (if that’s still your thing). But it’s not all plain sailing:
- The Chronicle recently reported one in 50 of us in the North East have covid.
- Schools and universities are returning right now (we haven’t felt that impact yet).
- Winter is coming (I do like a Game of Thrones/business reference).
And that’s just the covid-related considerations.
Operationally, you must ask yourself these questions:
Can you really be as productive working from home?
Every business is different. Just because your competitors/friend’s businesses are doing hybrid working doesn’t mean it’s right for your business.
How do you train new people?
It’ll take much longer to train new staff because there’s a delay in asking questions. Plus, whereas new starters may feel comfortable asking their colleagues a quick question face-to-face, many will worry their question isn’t Whatsapp or email worthy.
By not asking enough questions, new starters will make more mistakes and take longer to learn the job.
How do you get the benefits of teamwork?
I’ve spoken before about how important teamwork is.A high-performing team is a team that knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses. A team full of people who want each other to do well. How will you make sure your team builds rapport when they’re not in the office together?
So you see, there’s a lot to consider before you make a quick decision to go hybrid just because everyone else seems to be doing it.
But we’re not finished yet.
Extra things to consider
- Will you insist people socially distance? Will people wear masks?
- What if people are shielding?
- You’ll need to hire extra cleaners to clean desks if people are hot desking. Have you factored in that cost?
- What about TWATs: staff who only want to work in the office Tuesdays Wednesdays And Thursdays? Will you have enough room for everyone on those days? Or will staff have to ‘book’ a desk in advance?
- What will you do with people who are shielding or people who have suppressed immune systems?
- Your young staff may not be double-jabbed. Anti-vaxxers will refuse the jab. What happens there?
- People’s lifestyles have changed. Childcare commitments are different. Will you/can you be flexible?
How can you get hybrid working right?
Some people don’t work as hard at home, but others work much harder. Some people need the buzz of the office, others need silence. It can feel like a balancing act.
Yes, you’d like to try and please everyone but you’re running a business: you need to keep people safe and make sure the business is productive.
Here are four main ways to get hybrid working right.
Factor in an adjustment period
We’ve all become experts at bending rules to suit our own situation/plans. The top people in government are doing it, so why not us?
Coming back to work, rules are rules. You need to allow people time to readjust to this.
We all struggle with transitions. Your staff’s lives have changed. Their situation at home may have changed. Work friendship dynamics will be different.
Don’t be too harsh on your staff if they’re late because they misjudged their commute time. It’s easy to forget things that were once a habit.
The key to managing change is how you manage uncertainty.
Be clear. Be honest. Be kind.
Don’t impose things on people
If you want to encourage team building, don’t expect people to stay late to attend work socials – their working day is already longer than it has been for two years.
Make sure socials are in work time. Make them appealing and respect people’s individual needs.
Encourage everyone more
Take extra time to tell people how good a job they’re doing.
Share positive company news and successes.
Make sure everyone feels part of the success.
Communication is key
Without clear communication, people ‘fill in the gaps’ themselves. They speculate. They gossip. They come to conclusions they want or they’re worried about.
For this reason, explain why you’re doing things – don’t just tell people what you’re doing.
When delivering key messages, tell everyone where and when you’re going to deliver the news. Explain you’re delivering this in person so everyone gets the same message and they have to be there to hear it from you. This sparks FOMO and you’ll find more staff attend the briefings.
Then think about how you’ll get the key message to the people who can’t be there. Recording your briefing and making the link available is a great option. Send it using instant messenger so everyone gets it at the same time.
If a member of your team has to deliver the briefing, pick someone who is positive and part of your core team.
Remember people rarely remember exactly what you said but they remember how you said it. Tone is everything.
Nobody likes rules that don’t make sense
So when you’re setting up your processes and procedures, make sure you’re not doing things out of principle.
Make sure they’re logical and explain the logic. Explain the reasons.
Be authentic. Be yourself.
And above all, don’t be a TWAT.