What is Hybrid Working?
Flexible working became a reality through COVID times, and it is here to stay. The past two years have changed the way that employees want to work, and employers have had to recognize and adapt to this. Even before the pandemic, jobs were being tweaked and re-designed to provide greater flexibility about how, when, and where they could be done. Two years on, lessons are being learned and the workplace is evolving towards permanent change with employee satisfaction and productivity at the center of the paradigm shift.
As with all great change, there are opposing forces at play. On one hand, employers are nervous about productivity and the bottom line, on the other, employees demand greater flexibility and balance. Hybrid working presents a solution that meets the needs of both parties. Hybrid working comes in a variety of formats with its essence rooted in flexibility and adjusting to the needs of the user. Unlike the old model of inflexible 9-5 working, hybrid working fits around the needs of the business and its user, rather than the opposite.
The concept may feel new but has in fact been around for decades in one form or another. Now mainstream, hybrid working has been (in-part) forced upon employers as they were faced with pandemic-related social distancing restrictions. In parallel, employers became under pressure to recognize and adapt to the needs of the workforce, applying less stringent mandatory office hours and embracing remote working.
The data doesn’t lie
- 42% of employees said they lack essential office supplies at home
- 73% of global employees want flexible work options to remain after COVID-19 work restrictions ease.
- One in 10 don’t have an adequate internet connection to do their job.
- Only 50% of workers said their employer helps with at-home work expenses.
- 67% of employees crave the connection of ‘in-person’ work environments and feel lonely and isolated when working solely from home.
Looking at the compelling statistics here, the situation is complex and nuanced. Whilst employees are demanding less superfluous time at their desks, the need for team working remains strong. Employees are committed to their roles and feel they have evidenced their productivity levels through the pandemic. They hope to “return” to office-based work in a hybrid state where remote working is welcomed but there is ample provision for in-real-life connection as a team.
Employers, for the large part, are evolving and 66% of global leaders say their company is planning a space redesign to embrace the global phenomena that is hybrid working. Born out necessity and amplified through employee pressure, the statistics and data support the argument that hybrid working is here to stay.
Saying goodbye to presenteeism
Presenteeism, the practice of being present at your desk to appear busy, is far from productive and breeds resentment and exhaustion among employees. Conversely, the other extreme of 100% remote working can lead to digital overwhelm with an expectation that employees should be “online” and available 24.7. In addition, working alone for extended periods can lead to team silos and stifled creativity.
Enter hybrid working, a happy medium between the two extremes. Hybrid working allows for remote working as needed and welcomes in-person operations. It is a trust and values-based system that balances the business need with employee wellbeing. There are no set rules with hybrid working and it can take a variety of forms. Companies may, for example, give employees the choice to work in the office or remotely for part of the week. Other employers may have employees working either full-time remote or full-time in the office and others may offer employees a combination of both.
The end of “one size fits all”
Working conditions, employer values, and corporate culture are top of the list among jobseekers. Whilst salary and benefits remain important, the younger workforce is much more interested in the overall experience than the generations prior. Employers will need to adapt if they hope to attract and retain the best talent, going forward. So strong is employee sentiment in favor of hybrid working, that in a survey conducted by Wakefield Research, 47% of employees said they would consider leaving a role if hybrid working was not made available by their employers.
Hybrid working is expected to be a popular option for many employees as companies seek to attract workers back to the office. Even if not adopted long-term, this provides an instant solution to get workers back to the office some of the time while allowing for remote working for those with health concerns.
Coming “back to work” is vital for business functions where office time is needed. An example would be those essential operational functions where employees must work with systems only accessible within the office or where physical documents need to be accessed which are not online. Manufacturing is another area where a version of hybrid working is essential as employees need to be in the factories to make the products. In this case, the shift model where some employees work onsite, and others off-site would be a good solution for employers.
The flexible trend
In countries such as the UK, there has been discussion of a legal provision for the right to work at home. In Hong Kong, a traditional market, some employers are reducing their office space or even closing locations in anticipation of a long-term switch to hybrid and home working. With such a move, operators such as co-working spaces or flexible workspace operators such as Metro Workspace presents a viable solution. The business case is clear, with savings to be made and the opportunity to outsource office upkeep to the provider, in this case, Metropolitan Workspace. Key to the success of the model is that operators offer flexibility regarding the space needs. Employers can downscale and upsize with relative ease as their business grows (or shrinks) and as they implement flexible working.
Change requires courage and time. If you require guidance on how to move to flexible, hybrid working, please get in touch to find out more about packages at out eight office locations in Hong Kong.
Thank you for reading this blog. You may also be interested in reading “[Press Release] Metropolitan Workspace Launches The Urban Woods“.