Many employers were anti-working from home for their staff. Their logic was often that if staff are not at work, they won’t be productive. However, with COVID and lockdowns, many employers had no choice. They sent staff home to work … and I think many were pleasantly surprised. Many (good) workers are so much more productive working from home even on a hybrid setup.
Myself, I’ve been working in a hybrid work situation for over 20 years now. In fact, I grew two very successful businesses, working about 90% of the time from home. In my prior business, I had 25 staff at its peak and we have both hybrid and flexible working arrangements for about 80% of the team. I had a great team, who did a great job and worked perfectly well at home. This work style also attracted excellent team; back then it wasn’t as common and had a huge appeal.
At this point, I should explain the difference between a ‘flexible’ and ‘hybrid’. Flexible is just that. It’s flexible as to the time of day you work, where you work and more. It can almost be like a contract situation; as long as the job gets done, how, when and where is at the discretion of the employee. A hybrid working arrangement is more the option to work some days at the office and some days away from the office; most likely from home. Usually though, you will be expected to work your normal working hours, say 8-4 or perhaps 9-5. Whether you go flexible or hybrid; there are pros and cons and things to be aware of.
Benefits of A Hybrid Work Arrangement
Happier and more productive staff
Team working from home are happier. They are not commuting, arriving at work already tired. They save money on transport, plus up to 3 or 4 hours every single day! They may have pets at home, which invariably adds to personal wellness. They feel (hopefully) trusted and appreciate the flexibility; they will work hard to retain that trust and that opportunity. A happy team member is far more productive, wants to contribute and add value.
Less overhead costs
If your staff came in half the time (and you staggered that) you essentially would need half the floor space you rent. You’d use less stationery, electricity, coffee, printer ink and paper, and need less office equipment … all of which is cost-saving. You might give your team a ‘home allowance’ to cover ink and such, but you’ll still be well ahead.
Attract better people
When recruiting, offering a hybrid working arrangement would be a definite plus. Here are some stats:
37% of people want to work full-time from home
64% of people want a hybrid work arrangement
Let’s face it, a workplace is absolutely full of distractions and interruptions. Phones, people, chatting, visitors, noise … it’s hard to really work and focus in a busy environment. I love working from home because I can get sooo much more done.
One reason that COVID has caused us to work more from home is the health factor; you can’t catch (as easily) bugs at home. Less time on public transport, out getting lunch, in the office where people are coughing or touching things with germs – at least at home you’re somewhat more removed from that exposure.
With less cars (or buses) on the roads, then that’s better for the environment. Less face-to-face meetings mean less air flights …. All of which is reducing the use of natural resources and our carbon footprint.
The Negatives of A Hybrid Work Arrangement
Overwork and burnout
People have proved they work harder at home. Psychologically, they want managers to see they are busy at it, and because they don’t have to waste time going to and from work, they can work longer hours. However, whilst this initially might be appealing to some bosses, long-term long hours are not sustainable. Ultimately, the person may burn out.
The other side of the coin, some staff will slack off. Distracted by everything from the TV to kids, they just don’t/won’t focus. They are in the minority, but they are there. However, if you employ good people with the right attitude, plus you maintain and communicate your company’s culture, this is less likely to be an issue.
Disconnection for staff
Firstly, from the staff’s perspective, many need social interaction; so, this style of working really can be isolating. The extroverted person especially needs human contact, but reality is that all of us do. Hence the hybrid (mix) method is great; a balance. For managers, it’s also harder to tell if staff are struggling or some are super busy and others are quiet. Good managers and leaders will work to do regular ‘temperature checks’, ascertain work levels and generally ensure the team are cohesive.
Communication and staff training can suffer
You will need to work to keep up great communication and maintain ongoing staff training; this can be an issue when everyone is working from different locations. Having the right intentions, a plan and a system for these will go a long way to maintaining both.
This is always an issue, but now you’ve got people out all over the place and not under one roof, you need to be careful to maintain good IT processes, security and training around this. Remember also to train staff on confidentiality, especially if they are sharing space with other family members or flatmates.
How to Make Hybrid Setup Work
- Recruit the right people. If you haven’t got the right people in your organisation, it’s less likely to work. If you have to micromanage people because they don’t do their jobs (versus because you’re OCD or have that tendency) then they are not really the right people. Guiding and training is one thing, but having to hover over your team is not effective.
- Be clear about expectations; with KPIs, goals and targets and I do suggest you have a Hybrid Work Policy so there is no ambiguity or confusion. Someone can’t say in their defence “Oh, I didn’t know that!”
- Are you time-based or results-driven? A result-driven business won’t care if their team finish their work in 6 hours (versus 8) if they do a brilliant job, do it in a timely manner, meet deadlines and the quality is of high standard. Good on them; why do they have to sit at their desk and do another 2 hours? Why encourage them to go slowly because they are essentially paid by the hour? It’s a different concept for some of us, but something which some people will thrive on and out-perform their peers on.
- Trust your team! If you don’t trust them, that’s going to be a problem. Why don’t you trust them? Did they demonstrate poor work ethic whilst in the office? Or, is it your nature that you just don’t give trust easily? Is the challenge really your problem, rather than theirs?
- Quick and brief check-ins are good. You may have a Zoom or Teams meeting each morning at 8:30am … just 15 minutes. Start on time, have an agenda and have time limits for what you’ll discuss.
- On a weekly basis, privately (not in front of the whole team) check in with each person re their work levels (quiet, even, busy, hectic, crazy) as well as a temperature check on them on how they are feeling. You need to monitor and help anyone who is emotionally struggling.
- Educate your team around working at home; having mini breaks and definitely taking a decent break at lunchtime. Just as a staff member shouldn’t work through lunch at the office, so they shouldn’t do the same at home. It’s not good for them and it’s not good for productivity.
- Ensure you’ve got the IT/Security side of things sorted. This may mean using only corporate laptops for work matters or having security measures in place in all locations. It will also definitely mean training of staff, so that they practice IT security.
- Have great processes and policies (which are implemented) around communication, training, security, systems and team wellness.
- Ensure they have a safe workplace at home; as an extension of your business, you need to ensure their ‘workplace’ is safe and suitable, ie not end up with a back problem due to a poor chair.
If you need any help with any aspect of your business, or leadership mentoring or life coaching – reach out to me via my Contact page.