Back in 2020, almost half of the UK workforce were now operating remotely following a national lockdown. Companies scrambled to accommodate remote work and it came as no surprise that the majority of professional occupations only required a laptop and an internet connection. While a large percentage of the workforce embraced the flexibility of working remotely, others found it difficult to adjust to a system that had long been opposed by many employers.
This sparked a global debate about the pros and cons of in-office vs. remote vs. hybrid work.
Harvard Business Review reported that knowledge workers believe they were more productive at home during the pandemic because they were able to “focus on what really matters.”
Companies are finally acknowledging what most remote workers have always known: work can be done from anywhere. Even before the pandemic, there was a growing disparity between where and how work is done. Work is no longer confined to a physical location. It’s about what you do rather than where you do it.
The rise of the hybrid office
By separating the “where” of work from the “how,” companies can empower employees to choose where they will do their best work. When employees are trusted to know what type of work environment is best for them, it benefits both parties.
Prior to the pandemic, the vast majority of office workers were required to work five days a week in the office. However, due to the national lockdown, they were forced to leave these locations, and full-time remote working became the norm.
Between these two extremes, there is a third way – hybrid working. This sees workers spending their time split between home and the office, also known as a ‘hybrid office’.
The arrangement is seemingly a compromise as employees grew accustomed to the perks of their new working arrangements, which included the elimination of lengthy commutes, freedom from the distractions of the office environment, and for some, a better work-life balance.
Last year we spoke about this new way of working and how it’s here to stay. As the transition to the hybrid workplace continues in 2022, it’s important that teams are constantly evolving with this new flexible arrangement.
78% of workers in Great Britain said improved work-life balance was a benefit of working from home (ONS).
According to CIPD research in April 2021, most businesses did not see a negative impact on productivity as a result of new working arrangements. In their study, more employers admitted that working from home increased productivity, with more than two thirds saying their new remote setup had no effect on their output or even increased it.
The report revealed that employers were considering not only the locations from which their employees worked, but also their working hours, with many considering how they could offer flexibility in the working day.
Adopting a hybrid working model
A hybrid working environment encourages flexible arrangements by replacing dedicated workstations with hot desks and instant access to resources. This change required us to reconsider all the ways in which employees interact with the workplace, as well as how companies collaborate with their staff to get work done.
32% of businesses have adopted new technology for virtual meetings (Gartner). Since more companies have adopted a hybrid working model, meetings and conferences are now being held virtually. Utilising team messaging and video conferencing capabilities, as well as software that can help with the transfer from the office to the home. Even though they are working remotely, there is still a high level of communication within the team.
Creating a successful hybrid workplace
Moving forward, businesses will need to use the right tools to enable employees to work successfully and productively from anywhere, which is critical in a hybrid working environment. This requires the proper equipment as well as a re-evaluation of your current technology stack.
Will you need to invest in new technology to enable remote working? Is it going to be hardware or software? And how do you ensure data security for employees who work from home?
Most of the technology you may need is readily available already and it is mostly software-based. Providing your hybrid workers with good VoIP software and an efficient communications platform will go a long way toward assisting them in remaining productive. With fewer in-office meetings, employees must be able to collaborate and communicate virtually from anywhere when needed.
This includes one-on-one calls as well as team meetings. Any software you use should be able to securely share or transfer files and other media. Your communication software must allow employees to communicate with customers, partners, suppliers, and others.
You might also need to make hardware purchases for any employees who work remotely. They might want a device that they can take with them everywhere they go, since they might not want to use personal computers or laptops for work-based activities.
Your IT department will be essential in this aspect of establishing a hybrid environment. They will require some level of access to remote devices to manage installations and provide oversight in the event of problems. Any software used must be familiar to all employees.
It’s safe to say that hybrid working isn’t just a passing fad. It is unquestionably here to stay with many businesses making plans to incorporate it for their workforce on a permanent basis.