As pandemic restrictions ease around the world, one thing is clear: the way we work has changed forever. Hybrid working is here to stay, but how do HR teams make the hybrid model work? If your business requires face-to-face interaction with customers, or a physical presence, how will you remodel to adapt to a hybrid context?

To ensure fairness, maximise performance and ensure engagement and workforce team cohesion, there are some practical dimensions to consider. Both companies and employees are recognising the benefits of workplace flexibility. The opportunity to relocate, move out of cities, reduce commuting, lower travel costs and cost of living and an alternative work-life balance. Can staff really choose?

Hybrid working does run the risk of exposing inequities as employees’ personal circumstances vary, along with their roles and their responsibilities within the organisation. And of course, the business type.

Choice and flexibility

Businesses were forced to adapt fast, embrace technology and speed up digital transformation, but as work environments normalise, companies seem to be split between taking a more conservative route to change, or embracing what can be achieved with a more progressive approach to change.

In a recent McKinsey article “Employers are ready to get back to significant in-person presence. Employees aren’t. The disconnect is deeper than most employers believe, and a spike in attrition and disengagement may be imminent.” And for many businesses we talk to, this sentiment holds true. Staff want choice and flexibility (with many not sure what they want, other than they want choices) and are prepared to seek alternative employment to achieve this. The result is higher staff attrition rates and increased costs for businesses to replace and onboard staff in a highly competitive market place.

Businesses that are deploying hybrid working models to give their staff the best of both worlds – one day on the beach (well maybe it’s not really the beach) and one in the office are performing better. These businesses are becoming more flexible, nimbler and an employer of choice. Time with teammates and time in another location can be a win win.

32% of all workers will be remote

According to Gartner, 51% of knowledge workers and 32% of ALL workers will be remote by the end of 2021. A fully remote employee brings its own challenges for employers, staff inclusion and engagement. The model only works if the right blend of technology in place and the role allows. Tech that covers operating systems and HR and creates a more natural, but tech enabled environment. Its important to consider ‘team’ too, how to make sure they are cohesive, and collaborative if remote.

A hybrid model, on the other hand is more complicated than a fully remote model. Creating the right degree of flexibility, security and engagement for any worker who is both remote and in the building is tough. Technology is the enabler, but it needs to be right too. Businesses need to understand the drivers

  • What do your employees want?
  • How will the business handle change management?
  • What do employees need to operate within a hybrid model of work?
  • Will a hybrid model work commercially for the business as well as the staff?
  • Do you understand the impact on different roles?
  • What are the main business drivers?
  • If you offer a mixed model that combines work and home (or remote location) working, what facilities, hardware and technology need to be provided. What office facilities need to be in place.

Businesses need to consider the following

  1. Emotional workplace – creating and establishing normal, culture and wellbeing for staff. A combination of people and technology
  2. Physical workplace – a hybrid and flexible approach to working location and environment. A combination of flexible office, pods and hot-desking, break-out and chat spaces for the office. And working from home or other locations including the beach and bed
  3. SMART digital workplace – an ecosystem that brings together all the digital tools, technology and platforms that enable people to do their work, wherever they are located. User-friendly and intuitive, making is easy for people to access everything, quickly and securely, without frustration

Lasting Impact on Tech and IT

Delivering on a hybrid model for your business and your people requires your tech, your ITyou’re your HR teams working together. It’s a tension that exits in many organisations as highlighted in HR is from Mars, IT is from Venus. Despite the obvious stereotyping, often these functions end up working in silos, and in isolation to each other. Delivering the ability to work from the beach means stronger collaboration between these teams.

Working together, HR and IT can deliver a more agile, flexible and effective workforce management approach. Flexibility that works for everyone, supported by the right tech. HR is in a position to understand the frustrations of the employee, the managers and the leadership team. IT is in a position to know what can be achieved, what frustrations can be eliminated and what needs to happen to implement new technology. IT understand issues around security too.

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