'One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.'
– Bryant H. McGill
The CIPD’s recent ‘Flexible Working – Lessons from the Pandemic’ (April 2021) report found that following the success of enforced homeworking during lockdown, 63% of employers planned to introduce or expand the use of hybrid working for their employees, depending on the needs of the job, the individual and the team.
For most organisations, the introduction of hybrid working will require a significant culture shift and establishing new ways of working and associated policies and practices. Organisations now need to consider what ‘hybrid’ means for them, how they might meet this new employee demand, and what will need to be in place for these new ways of working to be effective.
In our experience our clients are balancing the desire employees have now for working from home with the nervousness some have about either staying at home or returning to the office.
Here are our 5 top tips for implementing a Hybrid Working model:
Consider what’s best…
The benefits that come from more flexible, hybrid working models have created new employee expectations and desires in so far that, organisations who do not support flexible forms of working may risk increased employee turnover, reduced employee engagement and limitations on the ability to attract talent in the future.
Equally there are also some downsides to hybrid working that employers must consider, such as extra technology costs, communication issues and employee disconnect.
It’s vital that before any decisions are made that you consider what’s best for not only your team, but your customers and your business.
Ask and listen
If you have not already done so, consider undertaking a listening exercise with your employees to help you understand their specific working preferences. Ask people what they would prefer to do and listen to their hopes and fears about returning to the office.
Conversations like these are best one to one so that they feel able to open up and it’s important to ask about their aspirations for the future as well as listening to their experiences of working from home during the pandemic as some have found their wellbeing has dipped with the blurring of lines between home and work.
Be mindful that everyone’s situation will be different, and you must be considerate of those who remain vulnerable or have caring responsibilities and may still want to continue to solely work from home.
Whilst there may not be a ‘one size fits all’ solution, you can create an approach that you feel comfortable with and present this to your employees as ‘optional’. For instance, one of our clients has decided to ask employees to work a minimum 3 days in the office and offered them the option to work the other 2 days at home. It might be helpful to phase these arrangements in, over a 3-month period, so giving everyone the chance to get used to the arrangements and plan in reviews with individuals to check in with how it works for them. Don’t forget the situation may change so what works now may not become your long-term plan, and that’s fine!
The rates of infection in the UK are climbing again and government advice is still to avoid close contact with others so if you can, create enough space for people to keep a respectful distance and be clear about respecting each other’s desire for space. If you can’t, ask for suggestions from your teams, you don’t necessarily have the monopoly on good ideas. A couple of our clients have implemented office rotas, so people are in on different days, keeping the number of people in the office at one time down.
Keep talking and listening
The easing of lockdown restrictions has affected different business sectors and areas differently. Organisations need to use this time to prepare and plan their next steps, both for the immediate future and the longer term.
Communication with your team is key. Check how things are progressing and be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances and feedback from your teams. Keep communication clear and frequent to avoid unnecessary worrying or confusion.
Choose the best platform for your teams and encourage conversation, knowing they are valued and supported by their employer – and that you continue to prioritise their health and safety – will be pivotal to their wellbeing.