There is no doubt that hybrid working is here to stay. However, there are positives, challenges and numerous tensions that arise when organisations opt for a hybrid working structure. This blog will explore the benefits, negatives and offer some practices to overcome challenges to ensure you are hacking hybrid working and helping your team thrive.

Hybrid working may be defined as the mixing of in-person and remote working. Recently Make Happy, undertook a workshop with a university to investigate what the best practices around hybrid working are. Hybrid working allows us to be more flexible, save time commuting and work from the comfort of our home. Benefits of working remotely include:

1.Have a better work life balance

People who choose to work from home may have more time to slot in that gym class after work as they are saving time commuting. They will also spend less money on transport .

2.Increased productivity

Some people may work better in home environments, some better at work. At home, people are comfortable and not distracted by the noise of a busy office. Employees are also happier because they have a better work-life balance this can lead to them being productive at work and an environment where positivity is fostered.

3.Lower costs for the company

If most people WFH the company may be able to save money on office space and allocate resources to other areas of the business.

4.Attract talented individuals

Some talented people may not want to work full time in an office environment due to personal commitments. Building in flexibility into your working structure may help attract skilled individuals which will help bring your business goals.

Despite all these positives of working remotely, there are many downsides of implementing hybrid working or remote working. Below these are listed.

1.Employees feel disconnected from each other

When working online, you often miss out on those water cooler moment and don’t take the time to build relationships. Try taking a few minutes before meetings to catch up. It is also important to get everyone together to get to know one another.

2.Training and onboarding can prove to be difficult

New joiners may find it challenging connecting with their teammates and learning in an online environment can be difficult. Those joining may need to be checked on more by others when working remotely to check they are getting on well. Alternatively, it may be an idea for those individuals to go in to the office to learn and establish a rapport with colleagues.

3.Lack a sense of belonging in a company

It can sometimes be difficult to create a community with people working in different locations and asynchronously.

4.Burn out – people working from home may work far beyond their hours and the barrier between their work and home life dissolves.

To avoid this, the organisation can encourage individuals to log off at certain times and take their lunch breaks. Some companies do not allow any meetings to be scheduled between certain times, say 12-1pm, to make sure people are getting a rest in the middle of the day. It is also down to the individual to shut their laptop and unwind when they finish for the day.

5.People feel ignored.

When sending emails to individuals in an office environment, you can see that they are rammed with tasks for that day. When working remotely this is hidden to us. To combat this, individuals need to remind themselves that others are busy and regular check ins are a great idea.

6.Grappling with technology

Keeping up with constant changes is exhausting. However, technology is a powerful tool that can streamline processes. It is therefore, important that individuals receive the correct training so they can harness technology to assist them at work.

7.Creativity and collaboration

Frequently, people find it challenging to really collaborate and throw ideas out. To overcome this be deliberate about which stage you are in when solving problems and encourage divergent thinking in the idea generation stage.

8.Too many unnecessary and pointless meetings and meeting fatigue. (this was the case before the pandemic).

Something that came out of our workshop recently was that the participants felt they were in constant zoom/teams/google meet meetings when WFH. Try carving out a time for emails and coffee at 2pm everyday. Additionally, make sure that each meeting has a meaning and an agenda.

9.Asynchronous communication can be particularly challenging

When everyone is working at different times, it can be challenging to communicate, collaborate and get stuff done. To overcome this try using shared spaces such as Miro, or a shared google drive and schedule check ins with your team.

10.Middle managers feel that people aren’t working.

When it comes to hybrid working there is a tension between control and autonomy. When people are working from home, they are not surveyed in the same manner as they would be. This has led to people constantly checking when people are online and false perceptions that individuals working from home aren’t really working. To overcome this, everyone needs to be reminded that individual success is not measured on how much they seen. Instead it is measured by the quantity and quality of the work an individual produces.

It is important for teams to be agile and dynamic. For teams to adapt to changing work environment it’s important that feedback is gathered. Every team is different, it is important to figure out what works for yours. You could even undergo a facilitated workshop to tackle any challenges you are facing and come up with a model of what hybrid working looks like within your organisation.

Try establishing policies, expectations and procedures and make sure everyone plays by the rules.

To finish this blog, we would love you to consider the following questions with your team members to help you navigate hybrid working:

  • How can I create an inclusive hybrid environment?
  • Is there a schedule where people are in certain days of the week?
  • What are you doing to ensure strong communication is met?
  • How are you creating a sense of belonging for your employees?
  • How much flexibility and structure will you give your employees? For example, can they move their hours each day, can they choose when to go in the office?
  • What practices do you have in place to ensure meetings are effective?