Hybrid Working – is this the office model of the future?

Is your business ready for a new way of ‘Hybrid working’? 

Hybrid working was always in the evolutionary life of business but due to the global pandemic, many of us are now considering this option. Going back to the office full time, working from home on a more permanent basis, or perhaps splitting the two in a ‘Hybrid working’ model brought the future to us really quickly. We are all looking for the ideal solutions to a new way of working but what is best for each individual employee will vary greatly depending on their needs, desires, and personality. Whether you’re a business owner, manager, or employee, you must make sure you are aware of your responsibility in the current situation. Some people may want a little more flexibility and control over their time and commitments. Others may like the routine of a traditional 9 ‘til 5 job and the social atmosphere of a busy office. And let’s remember, ‘Hybrid working’ does not necessarily mean splitting between the office and working from home, it also means we could be working from the coffee shop, spending a few days at a hotel, finding a co-working space where you can meet potential clients, in fact anywhere that reduces the monotony of the same four walls day after day and gives us the opportunity for the social interaction we all need from time to time. 

Does a flexible day make you more productive? 

We all know the outcome of your working day matters more than when, or where, you have worked, and a flexible day often means people can be more productive. No commuting, no set lunchtime, and the ability to go for exercise whenever they want have given people the opportunity to work when they know they can concentrate, and take breaks when they know they need them, rather than when the office clock tells them to. Are you willing to take this on board and allow people the freedom to choose not only where they work, but when they work? I know this won’t be to every business owner’s liking, but we all must remember that staff morale is very high on our list of priorities and this freedom can make all the difference when it comes to productivity. Personally, that suits me and many of my colleagues, but, like many others, I still crave the discipline and structure of a working day, and I miss the social interaction the office brings. 

The cultural shift in working practices which started through necessity has now become part of our working life as businesses have adapted to a new way of operating, and some of the changes are here to stay, but which ones are sustainable is still an important question to be answered for many businesses. Some might argue that people need to feed off each other, interact and learn from each other. Some argue that personal connectivity and collaboration is the key to a productive workplace. Young, inexperienced workers need mentors so that they can learn on the job and make the business connections they need for their future work lives. But what’s to stop this from happening on Zoom or Teams or coffee shop mornings? 

Technology isn’t always perfect 

For LemonTop, one of the benefits of ‘hybrid working’ at home through the lockdown has been the forced advancement in our digital communication skills. Our investment in technology means communication is easier, time is not wasted, deadlines are not missed, and costs are brought into line. With the advances in video conferencing and mobile communications, there is no longer a need to spend hours in the office or on the road. Our computers and communication devices are fully synchronised with our client’s systems, and this allows them to have access to resources they find invaluable such as online proofing systems. However, broadband connection issues and outages mean this is not without its problems, but we can all forgive the occasional frozen screen or lost connections if it means we can retain our independence. 

What will the ‘hybrid working’ office of the future look like? 

Another important question that ‘hybrid working’ poses, is what will the office look like in the future? Will, there still be a need for rows of desks, or will there be a more open, casual layout where small teams of people meet to collaborate in activity-based workspaces? Will there be office phone booths and video meeting pods for the new digitally communicating workplace? Will we be housed in adaptable architecture so we can shape and reshape our environment as things change? 

Many people still have a lingering fear of returning to the office full time, after all, the pandemic is far from over and some of your employees could be more vulnerable than others. Are you putting practices in place that will help alleviate these concerns? You must get into the habit of having regular conversations with people about how they are feeling about returning to the office and how they see the workplace and their working patterns developing in the future. 

Are you willing to show trust? 

We are entering a new era where trust is going to be the linchpin of any working practices agreed with employees. Are you willing to trust your employees and colleagues? Employers and employees will be judged on shared outcomes, and this will require both sides to fully understand what is needed from each other. For the employee, it is to know what they are expected to accomplish, and they will insist that they have the autonomy to do what they need to do to achieve results. For the employer, it is to believe that they will get the productivity and the results they require if they trust people to do things, without trying to micro-manage, and allow people to fulfill their potential.  

Is your business ready for this new ‘hybrid working’ model? This is an exciting, yet challenging, opportunity. Let’s trust everybody to work together and change the way we work for the better. I’ll leave you with a famous quote from Charles Darwin. “It’s not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is most adaptable to change!” 

Read what Zoom say about preparing your organisation for the shift to hybrid working.

Hybrid Working

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