Hybrid working should be viewed as one positive outcome of the pandemic, an opportunity for companies to revolutionise working practices and empower employees to improve their work-life balance.
Dan Harding, CEO, Sign In App explains that in the new hybrid working world, organisations need to use what they have learned over the past year to implement the best working practices for their company. But he warns that those businesses that try and fake it to make it by only paying lip service to the idea of flexibility will quickly be found out, and likely struggle to attract and retain the best employees.
Looking back to look forward
During the first lockdown, organisations didn’t have much choice but to work from home. The lessons gained from this experience are invaluable to companies looking to introduce flexible working policies. What worked well during this period? How are employees feeling about returning to the office? What technology was put in place to support remote working and how can it be used to support the transition to a hybrid model?
Business leaders should take this chance to ask important questions to gain employee feedback and assess the needs of the business. Questions such as: Has the business grown over the last year with remote working in place? Has employee wellbeing improved? Where can business activity take place and where are staff most productive? The answers can be critical for a business to establish the right hybrid working policies for them that suit both the business model and employees.
Embracing the new way of working
Once organisations have considered their experience to ensure hybrid working practices are suitable, companies should be committed to completely embracing this new way of working. Expectations have changed for both existing and potential employees and there will be staff members that see through rigid policies that claim to be hybrid and flexible.
Organisations can show their commitment to embracing flexible working by reimagining the office space, encouraging flexibility between days of the week for different teams and individuals alike and utilising the office space as a place to inspire and fuel the company culture, team meetings and collaboration.
Developing the management mindset
Management shouldn’t underestimate the power of letting employees make decisions based on how they want to work, for example having one set day a month for team touchdowns but allowing people to come in when it’s best for them. Businesses may end up being surprised – if employees feel like the office is a safe, comfortable, and engaging environment, they may want to come in overworking remotely.
However, there will be industries and organisations where this high level of flexibility is counterproductive. This is where it’s vital to not follow the crowd and deploy hybrid and flexible working for the sake of it.
By demonstrating trust and full transparency to employees while using appropriate technology to support this visibility, the management team can do what works for their business. Companies should set clear expectations and objectives and allow time for any changes to settle while remaining agile to evolve the company’s approach over time, where required.
When organisations put confidence in their workforce to make their own decisions, they can create empowered and valued employees. While it’s important to learn from examples, each business will have its own way of operating that suits all and figuring out what works best for your business – and committing fully to getting it right – is how companies will succeed. Employees will quickly uncover ‘fake’ hybrid working policies that are rigid and unrelenting. To attract and retain the best, companies must instead implement flexibility that will be to the benefit of all.