Hybrid working: the term 'hybrid working' refers to a working arrangement in which an individual, team, or organisation spend part of their time at the workplace and part of the time working remotely.
When the covid-19 pandemic struck early last year, it seemed to change everything – including the way we work. Organisations had to quickly adapt to working from home where possible and many took the initiative to install new technologies and processes to ensure business continuity and communications.
Indeed, working from home has become the norm for so many of us that almost 70% of UK employees want to split their time between working from the office and working from home once social distancing measures ease.
Welcome to a new era of hybrid working.
The hybrid workplace enjoys all the advantages of remote working (increased flexibility, a better work/life balance, reduced commuting time, less environmental impact) and combines them with the strengths of traditional office-based working (face-to-face collaboration, elevated company culture, clear separation of home life and work life, emphasis on teamwork).
On paper it seems like the perfect balance; separating 'where' we work from 'how' we work means employees can decide for themselves where they will be most productive for particular projects. In this way, physical location becomes fluid and much more intentional.
Additionally, the increase in trust between managers and employees is good for business, it's proven that introducing hybridity increases satisfaction and enthusiasm across the board – and that's great news for productivity!
Managing the balance
As lockdown measures begin to lift, then, and a new era of hybrid working dawns, it will be important for business leaders to recognise and manage the new challenges hybridity poses.
For instance, many employees won't be as 'visible' to those in power as they once were, particularly senior managers and those responsible for promotion and upskilling opportunities. It does seem to makes sense to assume that being office-based increases the likelihood of receiving praise and commendation for efforts done on the job.
This means that office-based employees are more likely to be recognised and thought-of when an important new project or promotion is in the pipeline, and there's the risk that credit for collective efforts will be unevenly distributed to those who are 'there' at the time.
To counteract, managers will need to install new ways to track and communicate their team members' successes and think about fair ways to report these to those who need to know. Things like presenting group projects should – as much as possible – be scheduled to days when everyone who contributed can make it to the office (or else be done digitally for everyone involved) and managers will need to work with their team members to ensure they have enough access to resources that support their work (think technology, information, infrastructure, etc.).
Balancing the benefits of remote working with 'face-time' in the office will be key when it comes to implementing successful hybrid working strategies. Communications, out of necessity, will become more intentional, and organisations will want to think about how they are going to share information and collaborate in a way that's effective and aligns with the employee experience.
What about training?
Of course, as eLearning specialists, we'd be remiss not to mention training and development in the new hybrid workplace, although many UK employees are already comfortable with online learning and even prefer it to traditional classroom learning thanks to its flexibility and accessibility.
A hybrid workplace could take full advantage of these benefits of virtual learning, incorporating them into orientation, mandatory training, as well as professional development. Managers ought to be trained on how to use video techniques in department training sessions and be able to host meetings where all of the team – whether virtually present or there in person – get to share their thoughts equally.
Find out more about our remote working courses!