Has your organisation remained productive throughout the pandemic, even as everybody works separately from their homes?
If so, you could be thinking about giving up that expensive office lease.
However, don't be too hasty. According to in-depth research by the Adecco Group, 77% of UK employees believe that 'hybrid working' – a mix of office-based and remote working – is the best way forwards once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
In a recent thought piece, the CIPD state that, since "fears about falling productivity have not been realised… most employers expect hybrid ways of working to become commonplace post-pandemic."
As you might imagine, hybrid working is a particularly popular choice for working parents, with 57% keen on striking a flexible balance between time spent in the office and at home.
A new era of work beckons
Reverting to the traditional office nine-to-five is clearly not an option for any organisation looking to be an employer of choice in the post-pandemic world.
Now, therefore, is a good time to think about what hybrid working might look like in your organisation, so that you can successfully establish a 'new normal' that benefits both existing and future employees.
Managing expectations is crucial
While you clearly need to think about a work structure that best suits your organisation (how will you manage hybrid meetings, for example?) don't forget to include your employees in the planning process.
The Adecco research revealed many employees' worry that their expectations of hybrid working won't be met.
For example, many would prefer an even split between time spent working at home and in the office, yet felt their employers would expect them to work at the office more than two-thirds of the time.
A good start, therefore, would be to ask your employees for their views on hybrid working, and their ideas about how it could work in practice.
This could take the form of an employee-wide survey, for example, or by forming a discussion group of representatives.
Don't restrict your planning to flexible work locations
Many employees believed that the traditional 9-5 working week should have been reviewed, even before the pandemic hit.
In 2019, three-quarters of the UK workforce backed a four-day working week, while the Adecco research showed that 68% of employees strongly believed their own employer "should re-visit the working week" post-pandemic.
There is a growing desire to shift emphasis from the number of hours worked per week, to the quality of individual work performance.
Clearly, this will not only require a change in the way employment policies and contracts are structured, but a greater sense of trust in employees from their leadership teams.
Analyse risks to inclusivity
As eager as many organisations are to implement hybrid working practices, care will need to be taken to avoid what the CIPD describe as "potential inclusivity risks."
This could involve allowing employees some freedom to create their own bespoke working arrangements, as blanket company-wide policies could expose your organisation to potential discrimination claims.
For example, as younger people are more likely to live in small flats, they could be indirectly discriminated by a policy that restricts all employees to indefinite home working.
It is also probable that fewer women will want to return to the office than men, due to their increased likelihood of having additional caring responsibilities, while those with long-term health conditions may prefer to work from home more often.
You will therefore need to ensure that your organisation prioritises and promotes talent over presenteeism, and that your policies properly reflect this.
Help is at hand
Re-designing your organisation's working structures and practices may feel like a daunting task, but all research strongly indicates that the rewards are likely to be worth it.
You will clearly show that, as an organisation, you have taken your learnings from the pandemic seriously enough to implement the 'new normal' we have all heard so much about.
And as such, you will be much more likely to thrive in our brand-new era of work.
If you would like some knowledgeable advice about how to begin your journey towards hybrid working, please contact our experienced team at Viridian HR.