Hybrid Working - How Businesses Can Navigate The Issues Successfully
Thoughts on hybrid working and how businesses can adapt to it
Many companies could soon see hybrid working arrangements become standard practice, at least in the short term. According to a report by Parliament, in September 2022, approximately 1 in 5 workers had worked at least one day from home within the week prior to the survey being completed. Furthermore, 1 in 8 had worked exclusively from home during the survey period. While some business owners have complained about this current situation, Parliament’s report also highlighted the benefits to employees of better general well-being and improved work-life balance. These benefits can also have a positive impact on organisations that employ hybrid workers. Self-reported productivity levels have also increased, which means businesses willing to consider hybrid workers might be getting more out of the employees they see less often face-to-face.
However, hybrid working, like any change within the working environment, has its challenges. Therefore, whether you see hybrid working as a temporary or long-term solution, how you handle the change is critical for the ongoing success of your business.
One hurdle with hybrid working is maintaining team spirit, communication and a productive workspace for home and onsite workers. Downsizing decisions shouldn't be rushed by an organisation because they can result in a loss of team cohesion. A better idea is to involve the workforce in any such discussions to see how they imagine their working life and space in the future. Hybrid working is still relatively new and employees may only view it as a temporary phase. You may even be considering hot-desking, but this can lead to employees feeling that they have no space of their own in the workplace. Again, affecting team cohesion and potentially reducing the desire to come to the workplace even further. Instead promote team cohesion by including meeting and social spaces for team interaction and personal storage facilities so people feel they have some space that is exclusively theirs.
Changing traditional management methods
Hybrid working is also changing the way managers work. It can be difficult to let go of the traditional hands-on supervision where management sees a worker's productivity in person. Hybrid and remote working requires a balance of flexibility and autonomy based on solid guidelines, trust and support. To make a success of remote working there need to be open and transparent communication guidelines if employees and leaders are to remain motivated. Social connections (which are often hidden motivators) are harder to maintain, yet it's essential for everyone involved to make an effort to keep up social interaction, whether done remotely or with regular team-building meetings.
Space challenges of hybrid working
One of the significant factors of a change to hybrid and remote working is the amount of space needed. Business are finding they have too much unused space, too much equipment sitting in the office, collecting dust on unused desks or packed up in boxes that not only look untidy but certainly don't give the right impression to visitors.
Many idle office items and equipment are too valuable to simply be disposed of, and they may be needed again if more people return to the office due to staff changes of a change in attitudes to remote working. Using commercial storage facilities can offer the ideal solution, allowing you to keep your inventory as needed but downsize or repurpose existing space to accommodate new business needs. If downsizing is not cost-effective or even possible, businesses will need to weigh up future requirements and not rush into any costly decisions.
Business storage offers a cost-effective solution for any site equipment, machinery, office supplies, and even stock overspills. Many of the items you have in your office are not required daily or even weekly, so using a storage facility for short or long-term storage can be the perfect solution. Rental terms are more flexible for self-storage units than for warehouse space, and you only need to pay for the space you occupy for as long as you need it. Security and ease of access remain, giving businesses the flexibility to adapt and navigate their way to hybrid and remote working without making rushed decisions as they assess their future.
Make it bespoke to your business
Navigating the change to hybrid working successfully must be about the people and the space involved in your business and there may be no perfect solution. It's essential to assess how you see your business working in the future and consider what potential new recruits will feel about joining your company, either in the office, hybrid or fully remote. New graduates are far less keen to work remotely than their older counterparts so think about whether hybrid working will enable you to attract the best talent. Do you have enough space if existing or new employees want to spend more time in the office as the appeal of hybrid working wanes?
Can you manage the work environment, your employee's well-being and the potential that some workers will move on and you will have to replace them? Major change always impacts staff turnover so be prepared for that. Don't rush decisions that could cost you dearly later. If you are considering downsizing, it's best to stay reasonably close to your current location. After all, move too far away, and you could lose some key personnel.
In whatever way you choose to move forward, you should plan carefully, keep conversations with staff open, and always look to the future when making decisions about hybrid working that could be difficult to overturn should trends change again.
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