Justin Small, Founder and CEO of Future Strategy Club, explains how to make hybrid working work for you.
Over the weekend, Boris Johnson announced that the major easing of COVID-19 restrictions in England will go ahead from next week, with a full return to the office expected by late June.
As it stands, 53% of desk-based office workers in the UK are now travelling to their place of employment at least once a week. Yet as lockdown restrictions in the UK continue to lift, much uncertainty amongst employees and employers still remains around the future of the workplace, with data from Future Strategy Club revealing that 57% of under 35s are anxious and concerned about returning to the office permanently post-pandemic.
Many companies are now looking towards implementing hybrid working models permanently to give employees more agility, flexibility and freedom. This is to meet employee demands, with 67% of UK workers now wanting a hybrid model of work when returning to the office post-pandemic to save time and money on their commute and improve their work-life balance.
Yet the new hybrid normal could be a double-edged sword for employees and employers alike if not strategically implemented. A large part of a well-run hybrid structure is determined by maintaining the camaraderie, efficiency and productivity that face-to-face working brings. Therefore, it is essential that employees and employers are aware of the potential challenges that working in a hybrid environment can present and how to overcome these successfully.
Justin Small, Founder and CEO of Future Strategy Club, explains how to make hybrid working work for you:
“The key to the hybrid office will be the successful integration of the in-office and at-home workers in one physical/digital meeting place. This is harder than you think, as many iterations of defunct ‘telepresence’ conference room tech has shown over the years.
If not thought through properly, the office might end up being an extension of employee’s kitchen tables and spare room – with in-office employees sitting in small booths on Teams talking to at-home employees on Teams to include them in their daily meetings. In this situation, the usefulness of having an office is marginal. When the in-office team decide to all sit together in one room with the at-home employees on one screen, this results in the at-home employees missing out on most of the cross talk by the in-office employees with associated communication problems. Therefore, thinking very carefully about the tech used to bridge the great digital/physical divide is crucial.
Regarding tools we use, one decision Future Strategy Club has made is to have an always-on office camera and screen near the communal area so that at-home employees can chat with in-office employees during their breaks. We also use ‘Tandem’, which is a great virtual office solution where employees are always live, and where conversations during the day are made quick and easy. Additionally, we use ‘Miro’, ‘Slack’ and ‘Trello’; cross-device systems which allow everyone to share their thoughts and ideas with the team, making the virtual office no less connected and productive than the physical one.
The worries that corporations have had about the loss of productivity from home working are now seen as laughable as the physical office with all its interruptions – chit chat, coffee breaks and commuting time – appears to be much less productive. Of course, work in isolation does affect mental health, which will impact productivity and more importantly the personal lives of employees, so 100% working from home is not a solution either unless coupled with frequent physical get-togethers where interaction is prioritised over desk work”