Hybrid WorkingJun 09, 2021
Working remotely, and in most cases from a home location during the pandemic has been a major learning curve for organisations and employees alike. There's been the constant juggling of personal and/or family commitments, findings a suitable place to work whilst avoiding distractions and the challenge of speed broadband connectivity to name but a few of the challenges of the past 12 months – or maybe these were just mine!
Notwithstanding these I, like many, appear to have settled into a rhythm now and whilst a self-confessed extrovert who is normally raring to go at the prospect of social interaction, I now find myself thinking twice about the return of face-to-face meetings, commuting, and being confined in a workplace environment, and so I welcome the hybrid model.
Catching up with a client recently the topic of hybrid working featured heavily. Our discussions looped around the benefits it offers but also the challenges that it presents. They shared that they had recommenced visits to regional offices and whilst it was reported to be wonderful to actually see people in person, there was also a recognition that there had been a lot of unproductive time during the commute. The complexities of creating socially distanced space in the office as well as having regional offices that spanned various geographical locations ranging from rural communities with low covid rates to city centre locations where the rate of infections is rapidly increasing. The fact that some employees are desperate to return to a workplace environment to reconnect with colleagues in person, yet others have no desire to resume this pattern of working, in fact they appear to be flourishing having established a working pattern that not only suits them but also is demonstrably more productive.
The conversation then meandered towards attracting talent and employee development not only the stretch and growth over the past 12 months, but on an ongoing basis particularly with a fragmented workforce.
It was therefore unsurprising to read these were the key themes covered in a recent People Management article (Who are the winners and losers of flexible working? (peoplemanagement.co.uk) where Professor Keith Cuthbertson and Dr Dirk Nitzsche discuss the implications of working from home, including the effect on the economy as lockdown eases.
What is clear is that support for hybrid and flexible working has grown and is likely to continue to do so. Companies should work with employees to plan out an effective work pattern that works for all parties and enables business as usual. Hybrid and remote working isn’t however long sandy beaches and blue skies, the reality for many is more like back bedroom, dining room table or broom cupboard – but whatever the location the changes in work practices can be mutually beneficial if all sides take advantage of the new opportunities to be more flexible.
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