The Benefits and Challenges of Hybrid Working

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Hybrid Working – widely used across UK businesses since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but what makes it so popular, and does it bring on any challenges?


The pandemic in 2020 resulted in sweeping changes to not only the business landscape but society in general, particularly in the form of strict lockdown restrictions where contact with people outside of your household was drastically limited unless circumstances were exceptional.


This was a shock to the system for many companies around the country and required immediate action. Staff were instructed to work from home where possible, and this enforced remote working went on a lot longer than many of us dared to believe it would due to the scale and severity of the situation the pandemic had caused. This extended period of working from home prompted a rethink on what working should actually look like, as the sudden and prolonged removal of the office environment appeared perhaps not as detrimental as some may have predicted. 


The Benefits of a Hybrid Working Model


One of the most noticeable hybrid working advantages from an employee’s perspective is the improved work/life balance. Being able to spend time working remotely means workers can be with their family, friends, and pets more than they previously would have, in a comfortable environment which breaks up the monotony of office life. A variety of working locations can also be more stimulating to employees, having the option to work from home, from a cafe, or taking breaks to go for a walk or to the gym and get back to work afterwards. People now have the option of truly flexible working, in a way that’s best suited to their needs, with a level of control which would have been uncommon before the pandemic. 


Working from home also reduces the time it takes employees to travel to and from work, not to mention the money they save from not having to spend on petrol or public transport so regularly. This time and money can then be used on things important to the worker, again enhancing the work/life balance.


Employees who operate within a hybrid working system could also be less susceptible to burnout or fatigue from their jobs. In many cases, employees will have a specific spot in their home where they work from, or even a designated home office, tailored to their personal requirements to a greater extent than their workplace, making work itself a less stressful experience. Furthermore, in the eventuality that an employee needs to take a break or feels they have hit a wall, when they are at home they have more freedom when it comes to unwinding and recalibrating before continuing with their task.


Offices can be busy places, often open plan with a considerable level of noise and many opportunities for distraction. This can hinder productivity as employees become sidetracked from the task at hand due to disruption in their work environment. However, working from home provides a quieter space which in turn promotes greater employee productivity, and is especially beneficial fo independent work. 


Additionally, having less employees in the office, perhaps even days without anyone in the office at all, means that companies can save considerably on overheads, with less demand for utilities, and potentially the opportunity to downsize on office space altogether. 


A core advantage of hybrid working over fully remote setups though is that it is, as the name suggests, a hybrid blend of remote and office-based work. The time spent in the office with other team members means there is still ample opportunity to collaborate efficiently on work, discuss objectives, and plan projects, meaning the benefits of teamwork are still firmly present in hybrid set ups. 


The Challenges


An important cog in the hybrid working machine is ensuring that employees can work as effectively as they can at home as they do in the office. This can include things such as having a suitable space at home to work from, or having access to the necessary software on their laptop. Companies need to be aware of the individual needs of their employees, and actively help them create a suitable hybrid working environment. 


Employees can tend to feel slightly isolated when working from home, especially if it is for the majority of the time. It can be hard maintain relationships formulated in the workplace when employees don’t physically see each other day to day as it is more difficult to communicate online, especially when it comes to organising meetings or gaining feedback, and it can leave some feeling lonely. More time out of the office also means that the culture of the business can begin to dilute, as employees feel less connected to it if they aren’t there in person. 


Finally, for managers, hybrid working can pose a worry that their employees may not be working as hard as they could be due to being in the comfort of their own home. This can lead to trust issues as it becomes more difficult to gauge performance. Companies have found solutions to this predicament through the use of project management software to keep track of what employees are up to in a non-intrusive way.


It’s a Balancing Act


Hybrid working is extremely popular. While there are some disadvantages to this model of working, when managed correctly it can meet the needs of all involved and create a happier, more productive workforce. Recent struggles, namely the pandemic, have forced us all to become far more adaptable, and widespread utilisation of hybrid working models in companies around the country are concrete evidence of that. In our next article, we will be looking at how to successfully implement hybrid working at your company.


For more information on the rise of hybrid working, click here.

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