What is hybrid working?

You may have heard the term hybrid working used recently and wondered, what does it mean?

Covid has forced us all to reassess our lives and priorities, and for businesses this has meant rethinking the workplace too. Before the pandemic many companies said remote working was not feasible for their staff. However with no other option available they found it was not only possible, it had some big benefits for both employers and employees.

A hybrid workplace is a combination of an office base with continued remote working options. Although this sounds easy enough considering the difficulties of 2020 , organisations need to communicate their commitments and intentions clearly whilst they decide what their future looks like.

Research shows that 40% of employers expect staff to regularly work from home once the pandemic has ended. Another study showed that 78% of respondents want to be in the office two days a week or less. It seems that the regular 9-5 may have undergone a dramatic and permanent shift.

Practical considerations

The first thing to consider is your existing workplace – does this still meet your business needs?

You may need help with adapting your workplace to comply with social distancing regulations in the short term, or you are considering changing the use of space. With a more flexible working strategy, large banks of desks may no longer be required and more collaborative spaces would be beneficial. A floor plan can be used to help you make the most of your existing space

Some businesses are downsizing their workspaces as they expect fewer people to be in the office, whilst some are using co-working spaces closer to where employees live. These can be cost effective options whilst still allowing valuable social interaction to take place.

Employers have a duty of care to protect employees, so a suitable risk assessment should be carried out to ensure staff are able to return safely. Any return to the office should be in line with current government guidance.

Space Planning

Are you thinking about updating your space? Speak to our friendly design team at Love your workspace.

HR considerations

Businesses should work to craft a hybrid working policy statement to suit their organisation which clearly sets out company practices. This should explain what flexible working options are available, who is eligible, and how this may impact roles and responsibilities.

Research evidence from the CIPD stresses the need to distinguish between ‘standard’ and COVID-enforced homeworking. Using lessons learnt from the challenges of the last year, employers should work with employees on an individual basis to understand specific arrangements.

Hybrid working will change the demands made of people managers which means manager training and development will be key. This could include coaching on communication, employee engagement and inclusion, and additional IT training.

A reassessment of job roles and teams may also be required. Which tasks work well, should be re-assigned, or have been made redundant altogether by remote working?
Many employees have missed the social, problem solving or creative elements of work when remote. Focussing on these tasks once in person meetings are possible will help reinvigorate team relationships and increase a sense of workplace belonging.

Another essential consideration for hybrid working is a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment. These are required by law for screen users in companies of 5 employees or more. New starters should always undertake a DSE assessment, with existing employees completing one any time that the work environment changes thereafter. Making sure appropriate equipment is provided both at home and in the workplace will protect employees health and wellbeing.

You can find more information on how to carry out a DSE assessment and implement any changes here.

Employee wellbeing

Wellbeing will be a central element of returning to the office post-covid. As we learn to navigate these new obstacles, there are many ways to provide support.

Research done by Aviva showed that almost half of employees surveyed (44%) said they felt they never switch off from work. This has led to an increase in presenteeism and behaviour that is harmful to wellbeing in the long term. Combat this with regular reviews and open communication. The The Society of Occupational Medicine proposes a strategic and coordinated approach so all employees are afforded the same opportunities for support.

Promote access to mental health support and let employees know how and when they can access it. This includes workers at any level of seniority, as everyone will face a unique set of challenges.

Encourage employees to take extra steps to protect their own mental health, such as making time to go for walks and taking screen breaks. The charity Mind recommends each employee make a Wellness Action Plan.

Further resources

CIPD flexible working toolkit

Joint report between the CIPD and Microsoft ‘Work Smarter to Live Better’

Mind – tips for supporting yourself and your team

Help with space planning from Love your workspace

Do you need some advice about your workplace?

Get in touch and one of our team would be happy to help answer your questions.

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