Enter hybrid working: a new approach to work that blends the best of the remote and office experiences.
We spoke to Rachel Setti, Director of Thriving Edge Coaching and Consulting, for her insights about adjusting to – and capitalising on – hybrid work arrangements.
Why work is no longer black and white
When COVID-19 hit, the sudden shift to working from home was a blessing to many.
Working in sweatpants and commuting from the bed to the desk were huge perks (and still are). And as Rachel Setti notes, many employees found they could balance their work and personal lives more easily when working from home.
“The last two years have dramatically changed our daily routines,” she says. “A lot of employees report greater work–life integration when they’re working from home, and that’s been difficult to transition away from.”
Remote work has also allowed employees to save money on meals and travel, and it’s afforded everyone far more time in their day.
But there are also perks to being in the office. Having colleagues and managers within arm’s reach is something remote work doesn’t allow (and let’s be honest, Zoom fatigue is real).
Luckily, most modern businesses are realising that work arrangements needn’t be black and white. And Rachel agrees that a blend of remote and office working presents enormous opportunities for firms.
“Unlike full-time remote work, the hybrid model allows for in-person collaboration and access to senior managers,” she says, “while letting employees work at home when it suits them.”
Wellbeing and productivity: Why hybrid work fosters both
So why is a blend of office and remote work so effective, exactly?
One major reason is that its flexibility gives employees the chance to thrive – both at work and at home.
About a non-existent daily commute, Rachel says that “this allows employees more autonomy and freedom in their working week, which can positively impact their wellbeing.”
During lockdown, many people filled the time they once spent commuting with new daily habits and rituals. Understandably, they want to maintain them.
Some might have gotten into a rhythm with morning exercise or a stroll around the neighbourhood. Others might have started meditating, reading or spending their mornings with their families.
Hybrid working allows employees to hold onto these habits – at least in part – which can have significant social and psychological benefits. And that, in turn, benefits their organisation.
As Rachel firmly states, “Increased wellbeing leads to increased productivity.”
Tips for creating a hybrid arrangement that works
The most exciting thing about this new approach to work is exactly that – it’s new.
No societal norms or expectations are firmly established, and that means all managers and employers have the opportunity to custom-design a model that suits their workplace.
If you’re ready to do exactly that, here are a few key points to bear in mind:
- Make to measure. “Don’t take a cookie-cutter approach,” says Rachel. “To develop an ideal model, leaders need to take the time to understand their employees’ needs individually.”
- Keep the team tight knit. “Team cohesiveness can become an issue when team members are in the office some days and not others,” warns Rachel. “To address proximity issues, many employers are planning a weekly ‘Team Day’ where the whole team works in the office.”
- Keep communication clear. Rachel stresses the importance of clear communication protocols for hybrid work. “As during lockdown, it’s crucial that firms use frameworks that support clear, two-way communication about the hybrid culture the firm wants to develop.”
- Hours can be flexible too – not just days. “You can explore work time flexibility to help employees whose hours previously didn’t suit them,” says Rachel. 9 to 5 doesn’t work for everyone – but 10 to 6 might.
So – what’s ahead for the workplace?
Hybrid working arrangements don’t just allow employees to work at home in their PJs.
Hybrid setups also present an opportunity for you to maximise your team’s wellbeing – a fruitful endeavour for them, you, and your organisation.
Of course, there are some logistics to think about, as Rachel reminds us.
“Leaders should consider potential inclusion issues. If someone works from home a lot more than others, they might (inadvertently) receive fewer career opportunities, just because of where they’re based.
“Leaders also need to consider legalities around the protection of employees’ info, since more work documents will be getting sent to their home address.”
But in general, hybrid work has allowed work arrangements to become more flexible – and adaptable – than we’ve ever seen.
And for many, it’s the way of the future.
“COVID gave us one silver lining,” says Rachel. “It pushed us to adapt to remote working. As a result, it’s now completely normalised.
“Overnight, we had to develop strategies that might have otherwise taken us years. As such, I think the hybrid trend is here to stay.”
Do you want to delve deeper into hybrid working arrangements and expand your practice management skillset? The College of Law’s Mandatory CPD Bundle lets you do both. In one half-day webinar, you’ll hear from three key speakers on ethics, practice management and business skills, and hybrid work.Enrol now to book your place, or head to The College of Law’s website for further information.Learn more about Rachel Setti and her work at Thriving Edge Coaching and Consulting.