Hybrid Working the New Workplace Normal

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The Coronavirus Pandemic ushered in changes to the workplace that will leave a long lasting legacy on employers and employees who for decades have been exploring ways to improve workflow and work life balance. 
Hybrid working is no longer a buzzword occasionally used by Human Resources professionals. Instead the concept of working in a hybrid way, has become the new normal for the workplace as it adapts to the changes ushered in by the pandemic. 
Working from home is the most common way of working remotely
If you are unfamiliar with the term or what hybrid working means, in short hybrid working is a style of flexible working where an employee splits their time between working in the place of work and remotely. The remote location being anywhere from an employee’s home to a co-working office, to a local coffee shop. 

The flexibility afforded to employees by working in a hybrid way has led to a number of research studies into the effects this has had on employee wellbeing and productivity. Notable studies including those conducted by YouGov, an international research data and analytics group, have indicated that employee’s preference was to continue working remotely even as workplaces and society began to reopen. 
Described by YouGov as the ‘work from home’ lifestyle, the study indicated that prior to the pandemic a large number of workers, notably 68% of UK workers had not worked from home. A mere one in three had done so, with just 13% of those surveyed doing so the whole time and 19% doing so some of the time. 
Married to the job no more: Craving flexibility, parents are quitting to get it | McKinseyMoreover research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) the professional body for HR and people development in the UK. Found that before the UK coronavirus lockdown, the UK, in comparison to the EU average, had a relatively high level of occasional working at home for employees. Yet at just 18% of the total workforce, those who worked flexibly and from home were relatively rare. 
The increase, driven by the pandemic however, saw this percentage increase to 35% of employers confirming that up to a quarter of their employee base began working from home on a continuous basis.With above 40% of employers surveyed, stating that 75–99% of their workforce were continuously working from home as a result of the global health crisis.
Why Hybrid?
Employee’s have for a time beyond that of the pandemic, been seeking out more flexible ways of working. As we emerge from the other side of the crisis and its aftermath, it remains clear that hybridization is a way of working that works and is expected to be here to stay. 
For employee’s the increase in flexibility has led to increased productivity and job satisfaction, decreased absenteeism, reduced commuting time and associated costs. It has also led to significant advantages for employees who juggle caring responsibilities for young children or elderly relatives, alongside their career and work. 
EMBEDDING NEW WAYS OF WORKING Implications for the post-pandemic workplaceFor employers, hybrid working arrangements have decentralized the talent pool. Providing employers with access to talent pools that have historically been determined by a central location with proximity to the place of employment. 
In turn, not only has this opened up opportunities to hire talent from a variety of geographical locations, but it has also removed the corporate real estate costs typically associated with having an office or site presence in a particular location. The cost saving realizations have been plentiful for organizations who have closed down specific office locations or downsized as a result of hybrid working arrangements.
What does Hybrid mean for your workplace?
As a corollary to a Sage HR article previously published on the topic of Hyrbid working there are several changes and adaptations that this workstyle will bring to your workplace. Most are considered positive by leadership, management and employees alike. 
Your workplace will however benefit from the key advantage that the period of the Coronavirus pandemic, where enforced home working became normal for many businesses. Including those that may previously have been reluctant to support flexible working. is that this period served as a real life proof of concept. 
Most workers want to work from home after COVID-19
Dismantling many of the arguments that some organizational leaders had used as a rationale to not move forward with accepting hybrid and flexible working requests as they were made. 
The result for human resources professionals who have long been the sounding board for those employees desperately seeking greater work life balance through flexible working. Is that this now proven test period has led to significantly increased buy-in from senior leadership teams. 
Furthermore there are a great deal of advantages that businesses have now begun to realize resulting from this more widespread adoption of hybrid working. 
Managers are now largely engaged and have developed an understanding of how to support teams and operate their respective functions from remote locations. 
The buy-in to hybrid working from senior leadership has also had the positive impact of affording organizations the scope to design and implement policies, procedures and processes that are finally robust enough to support those working flexibly without compromising on their career progression and employee engagement. 
Yet CIPD are advising employers to be prepared for the culture change and practical changes that a more permanent move to long term flexible working will bring with it.  
Advice on how organisations can plan and manage a move to hybrid working | CIPDSuch as policies being developed and uplifted to reflect:
Who and the sorts of roles that will be eligible for hybrid working
The ways in which employees can request hybrid working and the process that will be followed, along with time frames on a request being accepted.
Clarification on the roles and responsibilities for hybrid workers when working from different locations. In addition to outlining these factors for people managers.
The ways in which hybrid working connects to and intersects with other forms of flexible working that the workplace may also have in operation.
Amendments to other policies that are related to including, for, expenses, IT usage, home working and data protection.
For some employers, a move to hybrid working may involve more complex changes to workforce shift patterns, ways of working and may also require overhauls to communication strategies internally. 
Moreover, people managers who have previously managed their teams from one central location, would also benefit from receiving training and support from the Human Resources department on how to effectively manage and support employees in this way of working.
Bringing it all together
Whilst Hybrid working brings with it a host of benefits, managing your remote workforce effectively will also benefit greatly from having HR management software that can increase productivity and with it, the success of remote people management.
Sage HR’s software streamlines human resources management for customers in 1,200 locations globally. Sign up for your free trial and experience the benefits today. Jade.

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May 9, 2022 – 9:00 am /Jade Taryn Graham
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