Is hybrid working right for you?

 

Even though hybrid working is a growing trend, it may not be the right fit for all companies.  To help business owners and management teams understand better whether hybrid working is the best option for their business model but also their employees, several points and steps should be considered.

1. What do your employees need?

For a successful hybrid working model to be implemented, employers need to understand their workforce and what their needs are.  A survey would be a great way to gauge what employees are looking for.  Involving the workforce in this planning stage also helps keep staff morale and motivation high.

Questions about the working set up which would enable employees to do their best work are essential in the survey. Examples include:

  • Have you moved away from your assigned work location in the past year?
  • How many days per week do you anticipate wanting to work on-site?
  • If you had access to an office space closer to home, would you prefer to use that instead of commuting to the office (for example someone who lives on Hong Kong Island travelling back to a location such as Lai Chi Kok – their original office)

If a survey is not possible, management can help create employee personas which represent the cross-section of your workforce so you can analyze and understand their needs, behaviors and preferences. With this collection of employee personas to help guide you, decision makers can decide:

a) whether hybrid working is right for the company

b) what sort of hybrid working is best for the business and employees and help keep management up to speed in evolving times

2. Do you have the infrastructure in place to support hybrid working?

The main goal of hybrid working is to bridge the remote (at home) and on-site (office) environments so that employees can transition between the two with ease.  To achieve this, it requires the necessary technology in place for both locations.  Staff need to make sure that the right communication software such as Slack and Zoom for online meetings are downloaded whilst also ensuring that the Wi-Fi situation is steady and up to the job requirements whilst in their “working from home” mode.

A common occurrence for staff working from home is using software such as Zoom to take part in meetings

 The office location also needs to have in place conferencing equipment and software that enables online meetings to take place with staff working remotely from different locations and different time zones.  Employers may have to assess if their current technology and communication tools are up to hybrid working needs and  and thus assess the cost benefit considerations in implementing any potential updates.  An option would be to explore renting meeting rooms with such facilities from shared workplaces or service office providers which offer flexible options such as an hourly rental or renting on a monthly basis.

Successful hybrid working can only take place when employers have the right conference capabilities

 Company infrastructure does not mean technology exclusively but also about how the company itself is structured and operates.  New policies may need to be implemented and communicated to staff to encourage clear expectations between managers and their teams (an example here would be adapting to a communication policy which accommodates employees stuck in different countries and working in different time zones.)  Office timetables should be set up as to communicate when staff members are in the office or working remotely, a must-have for health and safety standards but also to see what workspace requirements are needed as well as clear communications between staff to ensure that work is being done in a “business as usual” manner.

Employers may need to incorporate practices due to an understanding that employees may currently be stuck in different time zones and countries

3. Gather continuous feedback

It is essential to regularly check in with how your employees are feeling during this time of transition.  Managers should be encouraged to communicate with their teams and organization-wide townhalls (whether virtual or physical) should be encouraged to maintain employee engagement .  An online option would be to have an always “On” online channel of communication whether via a platform such as Slack or Whatsapp so staff can give feedback.  If your staff accept it, quarterly surveys could be an option too.

Staff feedback and engagement is essential not just for information but also motivation

 For effective hybrid working to take place, all the above must be considered.  Hybrid working policies need to be incorporated into existing work policies.  However, business owners and employers should always be aware that there is no “one-size” fits all approach to this trend of working. It is therefore important for employers to make these policies flexible and discuss with employees their preferences and needs, but also for both parties to be realistic about what work can and cannot be done remotely.

Finally, both employers and employees must understand that not all work can be conducted remotely, or all the time.  To truly make hybrid working be successful in a business, it must first be decided if in the long term, if hybrid working is business sustainable and if so, employers must develop policies to acknowledge the diverse needs of their workforce.  Acknowledging your employees needs and wants is critical especially in a world where employees are considering work environments and styles to be a deciding factor whether they leave or take a job but fundamentally, it remains that the business must remain able to conduct their business and hybrid working though it is a growing trend may not be possible for some businesses.  Keeping employees happy is a priority but the final bottom line is whether something such as hybrid working can be implied to make business sense.

Metro Workspace is a leader in offering flexible office solutions.  Do you want to know more about hybrid working?  Check out “What is hybrid working?”

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