As the lockdown measures in the UK begin to ease and the aim for life to return to 'normal' by the summer. Plans are beginning to be made for the future of the working world and how this may look.
Many businesses are making plans for their staff to return to the office, however, many big names have now confirmed that employees will not return to the office full time to pre- pandemic levels.
Businesses have reported that being forced to implement a work from home structure due to the demands and restrictions of the COVID pandemic has enabled them to see that remote working has had many benefits. These include; increased productivity and improved work life balance. With technologies in place many businesses have continued to operate successfully and have staff stay connected while working remotely.
However, there is there are also reports of loneliness and team bonding suffering from this model.
Companies are looking to the post-Covid future. For many, the vision is a model that combines remote work and office time.
The working week is beginning to evolve, with some companies confirming staff will all continue at home until at least next year, others are preparing for a staggered return to the office and others leaving the decision of where to be based down to the individual.
While ‘hybrid’ is key to understanding the more flexible future of work, it incorporates many possible systems. Hybrid work tends to include more freedom around when to work, as well as where. It generally gives more freedom to employees to fit work around the rest of their lives, rather than structuring other parts of a weekday around hours logged in an office. Ideally, it’s the best of both worlds: structure and sociability, and independence and flexibility on the other.
It is clear that the structure of this working model will need to be considered when companies are planning for the future.
A report carried out by Microsoft has identified trends that business leaders need to be aware of. Flexible work is here to stay. Employees want the benefits of remote working with the option of collaborating in-person when needed. This hybrid model is quite likely be the norm going forward and employers need to consider how they arrange the office environments to accommodate it.
Some steps to follow to effectively introduce hybrid working can include:
- Engaging people managers throughout the organisation, providing an opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns, as well as the provision of training and development to support successful hybrid working.
- Development of a communication plan to share plans for future hybrid working with all employees, including information on how to request hybrid working.
- Planning for and responding to the organisational implications of hybrid working on matters such as technology, employee wellbeing, inclusion and facilities.
- Supporting effective team building and cohesion in hybrid teams.
At the heart of this working model is trust and communication, this works both ways. The employee must feel supported and trust the employer to provide adequate support to enable them to carry out their role successfully, and the employer must trust its employees to work effectively and discuss any challenges that working remotely and flexibly may bring.
This is time for a big change in the working world and we should all keep an open mind as to how the future may look.