Busting myths about hybrid working
With the uncertainty that has plagued the past 2 years, many businesses have had to adapt their practices and set-up almost overnight. With a lot of toing and froing happening, businesses who returned to the office full time may now find themselves working from home again or in a hybrid way. But there are a lot of myths and misconceptions around hybrid working that we thought we’d attempt to clear up.
Even though companies who had never previously considered a work-from-home element have had to introduce it, that doesn’t mean that the format is a new one. In fact, people’s desire for more work-life balance had existed long before that and when polled, approximately half of 6,500 business leaders said that this desire from their employees would have a major impact over the next 5 years.
Unfortunately, very few businesses had actually prepared for it, with other, more urgent business needs often taking priority. But then COVID came along and like it has for many other things, it accelerated the timescale and created a real need for change (as opposed to just a far-off idea of it).
It changed the narrative from being important about how you did it, to just being important that you did it at all. Now, many businesses, including high profile names such as Facebook and Dropbox, have announced that they plan for their staff to work from home permanently, paving the way for a change in attitude all over the world.
A number of companies have created guidance on flexible or hybrid working, such as a minimum number of days that staff are expected to be in the office. The truth is that one approach is unlikely to fit all, especially when you have a diverse workforce who all have different needs.
We need to move away from the mindset that work is about where you are and when you do it. Instead, we should consider what needs to be done and then allow for the flexibility around that. It obviously depends on the role; certain jobs that involve a high level of interaction with clients or customers will need to prioritise making sure they’re available when they’d need to be.
But otherwise, people are productive at different levels, at different times and at different settings. If you have one member of staff who is an early riser and loves to travel into the office to set them up for the day, and you have one member of staff who feels most productive late in the evening when they’re comfortable in the their home set-up, it would make no sense to impose the same working patterns on both of them.
To successfully work in a hybrid manner, it’s important to largely let your employees dictate their schedule to you, rather than the other way around.
It's mainly women who utilise hybrid working
It’s been wrongly assumed for quite some time that women are the main group of people who make the most of flexible working. In fact, 3 in 5 people who have been working remotely since before the pandemic are actually men.
Some may have come to the wrong conclusion based on childcare. Childcare needs and family obligations do form a large part of people’s desire for a hybrid set-up. But this is by no means only for women. As we move towards a more modern culture where men in the workplace are being offered the same parental benefits as women (such as shared parental leave policies), men are also finding that a hybrid or flexible set-up better suits the needs of their families.
It’s not only working parents that want to utilise hybrid working though. It can be anything from wanting to work where a person feels most comfortable and productive, to saving money and time on commuting, to freeing up their schedule for other hobbies or activities, there are a whole myriad of reasons for wanting the option to work from home, at least part of the time.
It's damaging for company culture
Some companies are hesitant to instate hybrid working or even fear the shift towards it because they wrongly assume that it could damage their company culture. When in actuality, the thing about culture is that it is whatever you make it.
Culture is a shared set of beliefs and ideals that mean that you and your workforce are all working towards the same goal, under the same aligned values. This has nothing to do with where a person works or when a person works and it’s down to you as a business to ensure that the culture comes through to people.