Hybrid Work: The New Norm We Can’t Afford To Fumble | Toby Hough, Director of People and Culture EMEA at HiBob
Hybrid work is the new buzzword in the workplace lexicon, and for good reason. There are plenty of perks to be had from this flexible working arrangement. Employees get to enjoy a better work-life balance, with less time spent commuting and more time spent doing things they love. And then there’s the cost savings for both employees and their employers.
But that’s not all. Hybrid work allows companies to tap into a wider pool of talent, no longer limited by geography. And being able to work from home, or indeed from other destinations can increase morale and productivity. It’s no surprise that studies have shown employees who have the option to work from home are happier and more productive than their office-bound counterparts.
Yet hybrid work is still under scrutiny among certain organisations who appear to be struggling to find the right balance between flexibility and productivity. In mandating returns to the office, as is the case with some prominent global financial institutions, employers risk losing talent as a result. They could also struggle attracting and keeping the best and brightest of the younger generations who are unlikely ever to accept a return to a fully office-based environment.
Based on my experience at HiBob, if you’re keen on implementing a successful hybrid work model there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, you’ll need to establish clear policies and guidelines for remote work, covering everything from online hours and communication to productivity. You’ll also want to invest in the right technology to support collaboration and communication among remote workers. Regular check-ins can help to maintain a sense of connection and promote positive team culture. And of course, it’s essential to ensure that all employees, whether in-office or remote, have access to the same resources and opportunities for growth.
At HiBob, we knew we didn’t want to go fully remote. We value the benefits of in-person interactions. When it came to crafting our approach to hybrid work we listened to our employees, surveying them on what they loved about working from home, and what they missed about the office. Based on their feedback, we landed on a mandate of a two-day in-office work week, coupled with clear parameters to explain that we wouldn’t be fully remote.
From there, we got to work on making sure that our office space was a place that people genuinely wanted to be. Our guiding principle was “more than just a desk” as we knew that many people’s desk setup at home was better than what we could offer in the office. We realised that people were looking for something they could not find at home: diverse and spacious work settings that allowed them to change environments several times a day. Having got used to the quiet and sanctity of home, they also wanted private spaces to do their daily work without many interruptions while at the same time being inspired, energised, see and interact with their colleagues. By redesigning our workplace with in-office experience at the heart we’ve been able to successfully embrace the benefits of a hybrid work model.
Yet it is true that hybrid work poses challenges. Issues that could arise include feelings of isolation and disconnection, or a sense that colleagues are missing out on career opportunities in favour of in-office workers. These areas require special attention to ensure that remote and/or hybrid workers feel valued and included in the company’s culture and vision.
One way to mitigate the risk of employees feeling less visible in a hybrid setting is to provide more structure to communication which would otherwise happen organically in the office. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help remote workers feel valued and supported, while also providing an opportunity to discuss any concerns or issues.
Also, it’s key to foster a culture of inclusion and belonging, creating a welcoming environment that values and respects all employees, regardless of their location. This can include setting clear expectations for behaviour and communication, providing opportunities for training and development, team-building and social interaction, and ensuring that remote workers have access to the same resources and opportunities as their office-based colleagues.
Ultimately, the success of hybrid work depends on the ability of companies to adapt to this new way of working and to ensure that all employees are supported and valued, regardless of their location.