How to Implement Hybrid Working

For many, hybrid working is the future of the working world. A system that maintains a central hub, such as the office setting we’re all familiar with, whilst allowing for remote working. 

Why Hybrid Working? Why Now? 

Had it not been for COVID-19 and the global pandemic, it’s likely that most of us would never have even heard of hybrid working. However, the pandemic has led to social restrictions affecting every aspect of our lives.We’ve been unable to go into the office and instead have had to make do with the kitchen table or the sofa. In short, our working life completely changed - our commute, our office, our clothes, everything. The same can be said of the working world as a 

Image by Firos nv

whole. In response to the pandemic, businesses were forced to adapt and make use of technologies, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, to maintain productivity and continue business as normal.

Ultimately, they found it wasn’t that hard and, in some cases, actually resulted in improved output and higher team morale. Why? Well, many have flourished with more autonomy and preferred the informal comfort of home to the stuffy, professional environment of the office. In fact, the success of remote working has seen some employees attempting to re-negotiate contracts to allow them to work from home and even resigning if their company refuses to compromise. You might be wondering, if so many employees prefer remote working and it’s proven relatively successful, why aren’t businesses simply becoming entirely remote and ditching offices completely. Well, everyone’s different and whilst many have taken to remote working life a fish to water, many have also struggled. Remote working does have its drawbacks after all: social isolation, motivation problems, communication difficulties, I could go on. The point is it’s not for everyone. So, how do businesses keep both camps happy? Hybrid Working.  

 

Hybrid working can provide the perfect medium that can keep everyone happy. For example, a number of businesses require employees to come in to the office a minimum of two days a week with the other three days being optional.  

How do you implement Hybrid Working successfully? What should you consider? 

 

So, hybrid working’s the future of work. That’s all very well but how do you set up a hybrid working system and how do you make it work effectively? Well, there is no one way to implement hybrid working and the details and the practicalities will likely vary from business to business. However, there are a number of areas that should be given significant thought by any business before implementing hybrid working: 

 

  • Policy and Procedure 

  • Communication 

  • Manager Training 

  • Technology and Equipment 

  • Wellbeing 

 

The boring stuff is usually the most important, as is the case for Policy and Procedure. As hybrid working is a form of flexible working, employers may simply adapt an existing flexible working policy to include hybrid working. Other may wish to create a policy from scratch that deals specifically with hybrid working. Whichever route you take, there are certain areas we recommend you address: 

 

  • Which employees or roles are eligible for hybrid working. 

  • How to request hybrid working. 

  • The roles and responsibilities of hybrid workers and their managers.  

  • How hybrid working relates to and will affect other forms of flexible working. 

  • Review other policies that intersect or overlap with hybrid working, such as expenses, homeworking and data protection. 

 

Hybrid working is still a very new concept and many employees may be confused as to the specifics and how it will affect their role. Therefore, it is vital that when issuing any new or updated policy that businesses also make supporting guidance and information available. There are a number of ways you can do this, including memos, HR support and, even, dedicated training days. We, at People Vision, can help with these and ensure your employees remain up to date with and understand new or updated policies.  

 

Effective Communication - A successful hybrid working system just isn’t possible without it. Poor communication is the root cause of so many issues that can undermine an otherwise effective system: knowledge gaps, poor information flow, inefficient team working and exclusion of team members. It’s important for communication within hybrid teams to be focused and recognised as the responsibility of all team members. Although how a team communicates will depend on factors, such as size and roles, we have a few recommendations for all: 

 

  • Meetings should all be held online to ensure a consistent experience for all involved, allowing for consistent communication. 

  • Avoid long, drawn-out meeting and instead make use of tools, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams’ Chat, to enable short, fast-paced communication. 

  • Ensure regular social opportunities to enable team-building.  

 

Although, many managers may have developed the skills required for managing remotely over the course of the pandemic, hybrid working presents its own unique challenges. In fact, it likely poses more problems for managers than perhaps anyone else. Therefore, it is critical that businesses provide the necessary Development and Training for Managers. This should include but not be limited to:  

 

  • Handling requests for hybrid working at both an individual and team level, as well as helping employees though an initial adjustment period. 

  • Acquiring the skills to enable effective communication, performance management, and team-building within hybrid teams.  

 

Aside from these two important topics, managers will also need support and guidance dealing with the complex topics of diversity and inclusion. Furthermore, they may also need technological training and support, although this will vary with each individual.  

 

Technology plays a significant role in any hybrid working system. Employees need to be able to work seamlessly between the workplace and home whilst also having strong connectivity with other employees working from the office or remotely. Fortunately, the pandemic and the consequent rapid introduction of remote working has resulted many employees to be comfortable with technologies, such as online meetings, workspaces and platforms, such as Asana. However, not all employees may be so computer literate and they may not have the requisite devices to support hybrid working. Therefore, it is important that businesses make the necessary training and resources readily available. Businesses may also wish to consider the following: 

 

  • Supporting employees in making the most of available technology. 

  • Reviewing the technology and software that is available and assessing its suitability to hybrid working. 

  • Setting up appropriate security measures and data protection.  

 

One last issue that employees should pay attention to is the Wellbeing of their employees, as the impact of COVID-19 is likely to continue to be felt for some time, both the physical and mental. This may include supporting employees experiencing poor mental health, addressing specific concerns and anxieties about the return to the workplace and the impact of Long COVID. Hybrid working can also pose challenges to personal wellbeing, especially concerning work-life balance and boundaries between work and home life. Therefore, businesses may wish to consider: 

 

  • Ongoing mental health support and information for all employees.  

  • Ensuring managers are aware of potential signs and symptoms of poor wellbeing or mental health, as these may be weaker whilst employees are working in a remote or hybrid way. 

 

Aside from these steps, People Vision have a number of resources and webinars that address this topic and can help you look after your staff.  

We hope you enjoyed our article please call us on 0345 4599710 or email admin@pvhr.com where we will be happy to support you.