Transitioning into the Hybrid Working Model

Transitioning into the Hybrid Working Model

Transitioning into the Hybrid Working Model

Author – Sophia Feroze, Consultant

 

The last two years have introduced us to a new way of working. Pre-covid, working from home was a luxury; now it is deemed ‘the new normal’. We have adapted to a work-life balance which eliminates the commute, allows extra time with family - and allows for flexible working hours. However, with the removal of all restrictions, we now face a new challenge: readjusting to working in the office. 


Not all companies are approaching this new way of working identically. Some have chosen to mandate that workers come back on specific days. Others have left the decision to their staff so they can choose which days they intend to come into the office and how their days should be organised.


Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.

 

Mandatory Days


The obvious benefit to mandating all staff back into the office on the same days is that meetings can be easily arranged. Knowing all co-workers are in the office ensures that not only can face-to-face meetings take place, but people can also have informal chats regarding work. Thus, task productivity instantly increases. Those informal discussions can move tasks along but also build a good rapport with colleagues. All this promotes a strong working environment including productivity and close collaboration. 


There are, however, some drawbacks to mandating staff into the office. Whilst those informal chats in the staff kitchen can ease along some work discussions, in many cases we will run into people we haven’t seen in a while and have a personal catchup. A one-off day in the office can very quickly be filled with many small catchups especially if everyone is in the office on the same day. Catchups with colleagues can foster good working relationships, but in a day that may already be filled with several meetings, it can be time-consuming. 2 years spent working from home means that we are not necessarily adjusted to speaking to multiple people in one day. By the end of the day it can lead to tasks not being completed and those mandatory days could end up being counterproductive.  
Setting mandatory days can also lead to people feeling guilty when requesting to have a day off on the mandated days or calling in sick. Corporate culture typically casts a shadow on sick days and annual leave, and this can intensify when these requests are made when people are expected to attend the office.

 

Flexible Working


Leaving it to staff to decide which days they choose to come in has its advantages. Now that we are used to our personal lives and working lives being somewhat entwined, it allows for us to work around that doctor’s appointment, picking up kids from school, or waiting for deliveries. Pre-pandemic, attending the office five days a week meant scheduling doctor’s appointments required booking the afternoon off; deliveries would need to be re-arranged; and many family obligations would at times have to be missed. Choosing which days you attend the office allows this to still be accommodated while still meeting with our colleagues in the week.
The drawback is it may be difficult to arrange face-to-face meetings where every party can attend. However, hybrid working has provided firms with a unique opportunity to develop and invest in technology. This in turn has alleviated what were once difficulties in working from home. Therefore, if there is a meeting in the office but somebody chooses to work from home on this day, technology means that they can video into the call and still partake in the meeting. Although it is ideal that all attendees are in the office, should they have other commitments, there is a suitable workaround.


Technology 


Leading on from our previous point, technology plays a huge part when working from home and working in the office. The hybrid working model would be inefficient without investing in good technology. This technology not only enables video conferencing, but also ensures that applications can be accessed with ease, contacting colleagues is made easy but inobtrusive - and that work can be completed. 


In March 2020 many of us were faced with the challenge of setting up an office space. Suddenly we were working on small screens or laptops as opposed to the large desk spaces and monitors we were so familiar with in the office. Ensuring that applications and our desktops can be accessed in a manner that it is easy to use is vital to productivity. Familiar and annoying issues for many of us were: the re-sizing of windows and textboxes; uninstalling or installing various anti-virus software packages depending on what the company policy allowed; no access to printers or headsets; and a huge hesitancy to contact colleagues in the fear that pinging a message would be a nuisance. Although we have progressed since the start of the pandemic, it is vital that these points are still considered, not only when mandating people back to the office, but also when recruiting new people who may not meet colleagues in the first few days or weeks. 

 

Key Takeaways


Time spent in the office is essential in facilitating face-to-face interactions and improves cross-departmental collaboration.
Consider whether all team members are needed in the office and whether it is beneficial for everyone to be there on the same day
Allowing for flexibility will benefit not only staff, but also encourages the top talent to join the firm. 
Investing in technology to allow for flexibility and ease of working is essential.

Here at Liqueo, we provide organisations with the skills to implement programmes successfully through our flexible workforce model, tailoring solutions for our clients’ strategic goals. We deliver an exceptional, bespoke service to every client via a dynamic and agile framework. If you are interested in how we can help you implement successful programmes or want more information about transitioning into the hybrid working model, contact us.
 

 

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