So how exactly should hybrid working work? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer and no one size fits all. That is a feature, not a bug. Every organisation will be different and needs to find the balance that works for them and their employees.
Hybrid working is often referred to as flexible working. This is a big hint about how it should really work. The reason the world is going hybrid is that remote working was not the disaster many senior executives expected.
Employees can be trusted to be productive when working from home. Remote working enables them to have a much better work-life balance and they are grateful for this fact. It allows them the time to become healthier and happier human beings. Which in turn, enables them to become more productive and motivated employees.
People still recognise the value of face-to-face communication with their colleagues. This is because we don’t yet know how to fully digitise the human experience. (We are sceptical that we ever will). Face-to-face interaction offers a more creative and collaborative experience. It also helps to avoid any digital miscommunications and misunderstandings that are detrimental to employee relationships.
With that in mind, any hybrid working policy should be focused on enabling productive work when remote and collaborative interaction when in the office.
However, coordinating collaboration is a huge challenge. When the average UK worker has between 8-20 meetings per week this is an extremely complex web of interactions.
For this guide to hybrid working, we will focus on 3 possible strategies.
You could create strict rules about which days people attend the office. You need to think carefully about the mix of people in the office on any given day. Plus the ability for every member of staff to meet any other member face-to-face at least once a week.
The problem with this is it’s inflexible and not in the spirit of truly flexible working. Your staff are unlikely to enjoy such a strict schedule that prevents them from achieving their ideal work-life balance.
You could leave it up to your employees to manually manage their own schedules. This would mean coordinating with their colleagues individually and hoping for the best on the broader picture. However, this produces sub-optimal results because the web of meetings is too complex. It will also have a knock-on effect on remote working productivity as employees jump on endless Zoom calls.
Both of these options are old solutions that do not quite fit with this new-age problem. Trying them is likely to impact collaboration and even cause your employees to feel exhausted by the experience. We are living in a new paradigm that requires new ideas.
At Schej, we are pioneering a method of organisation that helps employees efficiently manage their time and coordinate meetings. The focus is on maximising face-to-face interactions and minimising disturbances when working remotely. Ultimately, you need the right people in the right place at the right time.
The key to unlocking success for hybrid working is understanding and prioritising this. By using a dynamic tool like Schej, to help your employees organise their time and collaborate with their colleagues, your office attendance will take care of itself.
Beyond the model you choose, there are some fundamental principles that will help set you up for success.
A slightly more adventurous policy is to allow employees to work away from the office for long periods of time. This may not be practical for some organisations. However, allowing employees a month to work, travel or spend extra time with family is a huge perk. It’s quickly becoming a major attraction for even the Big Tech firms.
Hybrid working is a new opportunity with new challenges. Don’t expect to get it right first time. And certainly do not be afraid to try experimental things. This is a new era of employer-employee relations and there is an outcome that can improve things for everyone. This is not a zero-sum game.
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