COVID-19 changed the face of work as we know it. Working from home became widespread during the height of the pandemic and is now the preferred work style of most UK employees.
If you’re a business owner, there are good reasons why you should consider adopting a hybrid work model. In this article, we’ll examine what hybrid working means, the different models, and the pros and cons of a hybrid arrangement.
What Is Hybrid Working?
Hybrid working is a working model where employees can spend a portion of their time working remotely. Many people believe it resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the concept has existed for some time. It’s a form of flexible working that’s been with us since the 1960s.
Advances in communications technology meant it started to take off from 2009 onwards. Newer IT technologies, like ethernet and Wi-Fi, have made it easier and more viable for businesses to implement hybrid work models.
Is Hybrid Working Popular?
The easing of COVID-19 restrictions hasn’t led to a decline in hybrid working. In fact, it’s now one of the most popular work styles in the UK. An estimated 84% of UK workers who were remote working during the pandemic stated they intended to continue. Additionally, 30% of UK employees surveyed said they wanted more flexible working arrangements. Some 23% stated they wanted to go into the office less often. And 59% of UK businesses surveyed required employees to be on-site three days or less every week.
Another poll revealed that 40% of UK job seekers would not apply for a position unless it offered a hybrid work model. It’s clear that if businesses want to attract and keep top talent, they need to provide a flexible arrangement as an option.
What Are the Different Types of Hybrid Working?
There’s not just one type of business, so there’s not just one type of model for hybrid working. The model you choose depends on the kind of work you are doing and the nature of your organisation. There are four typical models:
- The flexible model
- The fixed model
- The office-first model
- The remote-first model
Flexible Hybrid Work Model
In a flexible model, workers can choose how much time they spend remote working and how much time they spend at the workplace. If employees want to spend more time working at home, they can. If they choose to come into the office more regularly to collaborate with colleagues, they can. Major tech companies such as Cisco employ the flexible model.
Fixed Hybrid Work Model
The fixed model is where the employer stipulates a set amount of time employees can work remotely. This can be two days out of every week, three days, a percentage of the week or whatever the employer decides. Microsoft, Google and Deutsche Bank all use fixed models.
Office-First Hybrid Work Model
An office-first model stipulates that the priority for employees is to be on-site. A business can use flexible or fixed schedules, but employees must spend most of their time in the office.
Remote-First Hybrid Work Model
A remote-first work model encourages employees to spend most of their time working remotely. Some businesses that use this model may not even have a dedicated office space. Instead, their team might meet once a month, or less, in a co-working area or cafe.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Work Model?
Hybrid working doesn’t work for every business. There are various advantages and disadvantageous that must be considered:
The Advantages of Hybrid Working
On the plus side, it gives employees more autonomy and flexibility over their working arrangements. This can lead to an improved work/life balance and lead to greater levels of job satisfaction.
There are also benefits for employers. An employer can attract workers from anywhere without relying only on local talent. Overheads and expenses can be reduced, sometimes dramatically. Some businesses have done away with dedicated office spaces entirely, for example. Remote working has also been shown to boost productivity levels in employees, with 77% of workers showing increased productivity rates.
The Disadvantages of Hybrid Working
However, it’s not all happy news regarding hybrid flexibility. Onboarding new employees remotely can be more difficult. It’s much harder to imbue a sense of company culture in a remote working environment. Some employees may feel isolated and disconnected from their colleagues and customers. Employees that are not able to work remotely may feel disenfranchised or resentful.
A hybrid work model makes businesses totally reliant on technology. One employee with an internet outage can result in severe downtime and project delays. Software and hardware upgrades can be costly to purchase and maintain. There can also be additional privacy and cybersecurity issues to contend with.
Changing to a hybrid work model can result in a loss of business. A small company that has built its success on face-to-face customer relations may find that its clientele is put off by the switch to digital communication.
How to Implement a Hybrid Work Model for Your Business
Suppose you have weighed the pros and cons and decided that hybrid working could work for your business. In that case, you need a well-thought-out implementation strategy:
- Hold meetings with your employees to ask them what hybrid work model they would prefer
- Surveys are also an excellent way to gauge employee reactions to a proposed working model
- Use the responses to develop a clear hybrid-working policy
- Clarify what you expect from your employees and how the hybrid-work model will function
Schedule regular team and one-on-one meetings once the hybrid work model is implemented. This will help maintain morale, strengthen company culture and allow any problems to be identified and solved quickly.
What Are the Legal Implications of a Hybrid Work Model?
Employers must also consider the legal implications of moving to a new work model. Employee contracts must be evaluated. Additional clauses may need to be written in and signed off on.
Privacy issues are also a significant consideration. Employers must ensure their teams fully comply with the EU and UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
As an employer, you have a responsibility to create a safe workplace. This obligation extends to remote workers. To meet your legal obligations under UK health and safety law, you must ensure your people can work without risk of injury or illness.
Where to Find Working-from-Home Training
More people than ever before are looking for roles that allow flexibility when it comes to office attendance. To keep up with employee demand and to get the most from their people, employers need to know how to implement a working model in line with the law.
Learning to conduct a risk assessment for working from home will help your employees keep safe and ensure your business aligns with UK legislation.
Our Working from Home training course teaches participants how to set up a home office to avoid health risks and be more productive when working remotely. It’s ideal for any business that’s implementing a hybrid work model.