There’s no doubting the pandemic has had a massive influence on our attitude towards working culture. Before the onset of Covid, remote working was, by and large, the exception and not the norm. However, with the introduction of government guidelines to ‘stay at home’, the number of UK professionals working from home in 2020 rose to a whopping 37%. That’s over one third of the UK workforce doing their jobs entirely from their own homes *.
As lockdown restrictions are finally beginning to ease (hoorah), the possibility of getting back into the office is becoming more realistic. Having said this, with over a year of working from home, businesses have adapted to a remote working culture that in most cases has proved to be very successful. As such, for many companies, getting back to ‘normal’ won’t necessarily mean being back in the office 9-5 Monday- Friday. As businesses discuss a plan of action for post-lockdown working life, one of the terms you’re likely to hear thrown around is ‘hybrid working’. As a digital marketing agency, this is one of the options we have been discussing ourselves, but what is hybrid working & is it the real deal?
What is hybrid working?
Hybrid working is effectively a happy medium between remote work and office work. A hybrid working model will involve employees working part-time in their place of work and part-time at home. It’s a flexible approach to work that has always existed but has been accelerated with the onset of the pandemic, leaving many businesses interested in the question of ‘what is hybrid working?’ and looking at how it could benefit them as a company.
Initially implemented as a temporary measure in reaction to the pandemic, many companies (including ourselves) are witnessing the benefits of blended working and considering its implementation as a more long-term strategy.
What are the benefits of a hybrid working model?
Now that we’ve answered the question of ‘what is hybrid working’ let’s take a look at some of the benefits for business owners and employees.
Where employees feel most productive is really a matter of personal preference. Whilst some people find it easier to focus at home away from the distractions of a busy office, others find they have more distractions at home and feel less productive. The joy of hybrid working is that it gives employees more control over their working environment so they can spend more time working in a way that they find most productive. Employees can go into the office to focus on particular tasks such as collaborative projects, and then spend the rest of the week at home concentrating on quieter work.
Better work-life balance
When discussing the question of ‘ what is hybrid working’, the word we’ll keep on coming back to is flexibility. The flexibility offered by blended working makes it easier for employees to manage their home responsibilities around their working life. For many people, a small change as simple as cutting out the commute for two days a week can drastically increase the time they have at home, ultimately making for a happier and more productive workforce. Equally, it allows people to maintain a healthy work/ home separation, as unlike with remote working, hybrid working allows employees to spend at least a portion of their working week out of the house and in the office.
Better working relationships and collaboration
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that interaction with our friends and colleagues is crucial to our mental wellbeing. One of the main disadvantages of remote working is that it can be isolating and make employees feel disconnected from their co-workers. A hybrid approach, on the other hand, ensures that people have face-to-face communications with their team, not just via a screen. Although Zoom has been our saviour throughout the pandemic, technology is not always conducive to collaborative work. Those three letter words “you’re on mute” will probably continue to haunt us post-pandemic, but at least with a blending working model in place we can get back to having some proper face-to-face meetings.
Less office space overheads
Paying for office space can be a huge expenditure for business owners. With a hybrid model in place, less office space is required because not all employees will be in the office at the same time. Rotating a schedule for employees to be in the office via a ‘hot desking’ system reduces the demand for desk space and therefore decreases overheads.
Gives employees more freedom
It can often be hard to give a black and white answer to the question ‘what is hybrid working’ as it is likely to vary from business to business. However as we’ve mentioned previously, it is this flexibility that makes it such a beneficial way of working. Employees have more autonomy to determine where they are most productive and tailor their working week accordingly. This is likely to increase job satisfaction as well as productivity levels. As long as the arrangement is clear between employer and employee and benefits both the business and employees, this hybrid approach to working can really contribute to the success of a company whilst increasing trust between employer and employee in the process.
So we’ve determined the answer to the question ‘what is hybrid working’ and looked at some of the benefits, however, what you may still be wondering is whether or not it’s here to stay.
Is hybrid working here to stay?
The strategic decisions that businesses make going forward will vary from sector to sector, however, there is certainly a demand for a blended approach following the pandemic. Of the UK working professionals currently working remotely, 85% have said they would like to see a hybrid approach incorporating both home and office working in the future. Although nothing is concrete, remote working has caused us to reassess how we approach our working lives. Going forward, we are likely to see long-term changes in our working culture, which for many companies will materialise via the implementation of a hybrid working model.
What is hybrid working for us at Fuel?
Throughout the pandemic, we have always prioritised keeping our team safe in line with government guidelines. At one point this meant complete remote working however with restrictions easing, we like many other digital marketing agencies, are looking at a more hybrid approach. Taking into account the individual requirements and preferences of the team, we are adopting a flexible approach that sees us splitting our time between home and the office. As always we will be keeping a close eye on the effectiveness of this approach ensuring we create a working environment that suits our employees and ensures we continue to fuel demand for our clients as we have done successfully throughout this tumultuous period.
For more information about all of the services we offer here at Fuel, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
*Please note all figures referenced in this blog are taken from the Office For National Statistics.