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Is The Hybrid Workforce Here To Stay?

The pandemic has forced us to question whether we work on-site or off-site in the future.  It has demystified the process of home working whilst also opening the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ thinking for both parties.

However, is the underlying question about efficiency vs flexibility and if it is sustainable in the long-term? You could say that we are in the ‘triage’ stage at the moment, while we conclude if working from home is a perk rather than a requirement. Is the end result a hybrid workforce with a blend of virtual and in-person work?

Research from numerous sources has confirmed that working from home can be more productive than working in an office. Increased efficiency may result from fewer distractions, no commuting and freedom to work during the best hours for each individual.

However, the opposite side of the coin is the socio-economic aspects and the nature of the role. Those with the luxury of suitable homes, enough office space, sound technology, and fewer house distractions will be more suited. Preventing a divide between the ‘in-crowd’ and ‘at-home crowd’ from developing, let alone magnifying the gender gap with women often responsible for childcare, is one of several points to consider.

So what is the best solution for my company? This is the million-dollar question and should be based on the workers and the organisation’s agreed goals, supported by a flexible approach to where the work is done. It is the owners or CEO that must decide as every company is different.

However, to make this form of working succeed, the company leaders must accept and embrace the change. Many have to date, but they need to consider the impact on their staff in the long term, technology issues, the business’s health, and, most importantly, involve their colleagues in the best way forward for the organisation.

Ultimately, there is a need to provide support across all channels. Leaders must trust their employees and not micromanage. Just because staff are not in the office, it doesn’t mean they are not working! Empowering employees enables collaboration and connection between groups and, above all, assists communication.

To answer my earlier question as to the best post-COVID solution, the hybrid model is possibly more manageable and the way forward for SMEs. It is easier to get a smaller group back into the workplace. It is more comfortable with smaller leadership teams. They can also be more agile and pivot to new processes and strategies than larger organisations.

Perhaps, part-time office and part-time remote working is the way to go as we discuss the best prognosis and move through ‘triage.’ However, I am sure there will be more variations on the way.