Future of Work Capabilities Operations

The Future of Hybrid Working Models

  • John Bridges
  • September 30, 2020

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was considered either impossible or "too risky" to work from home.

Some organizations allowed their employees to work from home only on Fridays, but it was nearly impossible to be completely remote. A vast majority of these organizations displayed a lack of trust toward's their employees and managers which stemmed from a belief that productivity at home would plummet.

With the beginning of the lockdown, however, nearly all of these organizations somehow managed to get most of their employees to work from home. In April 2020, 47% of the UK workforce partially worked from home. Of these, 86% did so due to the Coronavirus. IT and Procurement teams did a great job sourcing laptops in large numbers and equipping people with the necessary tools to become completely virtual. Some employees were even allowed to take their desktops home until their new laptops arrived to maintain productivity levels.

Suddenly, in a period of 5 to 6 months, the majority of workers in the UK became remote, all the while maintaining high productivity levels.

Teams have learned how to adapt to online tools rather quickly. And with no more long commutes, employees are also able to spend more time with their families and loved ones. 

Leaders of some of the larger organizations have stated that they don’t intend to return to the office until at least 2021. This has provided the workforce with more freedom and flexibility and has enabled organizations to save a substantial amount of money on property investment, facilities, and running costs—while also protecting employees from the pandemic.

The CEO of Capita recently announced that 90% of his staff will continue working from home and that they will close 100 of their 250 main offices, saving millions of pounds in rent.

However, some workers desperately want to get back to the office for face-to-face interactions with friends and colleagues. Hence, working from home has several benefits, but is not without its drawbacks. Some workers feel disconnected, lonely, and even depressed. Others worry that they will lose out on promotions and career advancement opportunities. Some live in small spaces and cannot create comfortable and safe working environments. Hence, employers must take these issues into account and carry out WFH risk assessments for each employee to ensure a suitable and safe working environment. 

Given that everyone’s situation is unique, and that remote work must also meet the goals of the organization, I believe that the world will soon embrace hybrid working models. And so we must:

1. Figure out a schedule that works for each team member. 

Managers must discuss with each team member how often they would prefer to be in the main office, and how often they want to work remotely (either from home or from a smaller regional office). Considering the organizations needs for collaboration, team building, special events, etc., each manager can negotiate and determine with each staff member what their hybrid working pattern will be. They should also be informed that this is subject to change over time.

2. Determine core working hours. 

It is likely that the organization would need to agree on core hours that workers need to be available as well as where there is room for some flexibility. Individuals and teams going into a central office also need to know when their colleagues would be available for a face-to-face meeting.

3. Find a hybrid model that fits each employee. 

For many people, I believe, a 3:2 hybrid model may work best. This would require them to work 2 to 3 days in the office, and the rest from home or a regional office. This would allow for more space, personal interaction, and privacy.

In theory, it shouldn't matter where we work (some organizations are completely remote, with no offices!). Employees should have the flexibility to work from home, from the beach, from their second home or another country, all the while adhering to the organization’s policies and standards (health & safety, IT security, etc). I strongly believe that hybrid working models could liberate people and motivate them to perform their best while promoting loyalty and increasing workplace satisfaction.