Since Covid-19 first shook the world early last year, businesses have been trying to successfully adapt to flexible working methods. Remote working is not a new concept, but adoption has increased exponentially due to the social distancing requirements.
Thanks to technologies like Windows Virtual Desktop and Microsoft Teams, remote working has been fairly painless for many employees; some businesses have even thrived in a new flexible working environment. That said, there are many companies who rely on their office set-ups and the prospect of returning to them was snatched away multiple times towards the back end of 2020.
Due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, and even despite the mass rollout of vaccines, it’s clear that remote working has earned a permanent spot amongst modern working methods. Once businesses are able to return to their office spaces again, the working world will move into a hybrid era, combining office and remote working to create a flexible hybrid model that will be welcomed by many.
In order to succeed with hybrid working, it’s important to know the clear benefits as well as consider the downsides:
Pros of hybrid working
1. A more efficient working environment
Millions of businesses across the world have been enjoying the benefits that more flexible working can bring. A 2020 Finder study showed that two thirds of businesses surveyed were seeing increased productivity from remote workers over office workers. Increased productivity, stemming from less distractions, is a key benefit of enabling employees so inclined to work remotely.
Being able to give employees and teams a choice of working method allows them to pick the location that they work best in and ultimately focus better.
2. Improvements to work life balance
A hybrid working model gives the whole company flexibility to be where they need, when they need to be there. Employees who can walk their dogs on their lunchbreaks whilst working from home or get an extra hour in bed on the days they don’t have to commute, will be happier and more motivated.
3. Reduced costs without affecting growth
Gone are the days of specific office desks for every employee. Hot-desking in a smaller office or coworking in shared spaces can reduce the cost and responsibility of a large physical workspace, while still enabling teams to collaborate in person and on-site customer meetings to take place. With a hybrid working style, businesses can rethink their existing office set-ups and reduce building, utilities and staff costs without disrupting working patterns or revenue.
Cons of hybrid working
Hybrid working doesn’t work for every business. For some sectors, such as hospitality, location is integral to staff being able to do their jobs. However, for businesses that could combine home and office working, downsides might include:
1. Less urgency with critical changes and announcements
Things can change quickly for businesses within certain industries; the stock market fluctuates rapidly and new software and technologies are developed overnight. With a hybrid working model, it’s rare that the majority of employees will be in the same place at the same time, which makes urgent changes or announcements hard to communicate with impact and severity.
If you’re using Teams, you can get the workforce together quickly by hosting a live event and gathering those in the office together, with remote workers dialling in. Not yet using Teams? Talk to us about the collaboration benefits.
2. A divided and isolated workforce
It’s likely that workforces might be divided in preference when given the choice to work at home vs work in the office. While these preferences can work harmoniously together, a divide might begin to develop if there’s no clear strategy in place. Remote workers could get a sense of isolation or a feeling of being left out, and productivity might begin to diminish. Working from home, when part of a structured plan that leverages the right remote working tools, can offer a focused environment and leave workers feeling far from isolated.
3. Too much work, not enough culture
Just as hybrid working might lead to a divided workforce, the model could also dilute your company culture. Without the unity of all being in one place, employees can lose touch with the ethics and values that underpin a brand, and lose sight of what makes a healthy working culture.
With the right technologies and commitment, it’s possible to avoid many of these cons. Still, it does mean investing time in promoting best practice, the right technology and may require a cultural change to ensure. Are you ready for a hybrid model? Does it sound like the right long-term direction for your business?
We can offer advice to help you maximise on the hybrid working opportunity and support aligning your IT and technology strategy with new ways of working. If you would like to explore this in more detail, please get in touch.