Hybrid Working – The Future of Our Working Lives?

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Hybrid working is a phrase that has become popular in the last eighteen months.

Due to the recent pandemic, employers had no option but to allow their employees to work from home. They did this to ensure continued workflow after government restrictions and regulations were enforced to control the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing.

Those who are unfamiliar with the term hybrid working are probably wondering what it means. Although most people are not aware of this concept, it has always existed, even though it wasn’t widely used.

So, what is hybrid working?

What hybrid working pertains

Although hybrid working doesn’t have a definitive definition, it simply refers to an arrangement where organizations, teams, or individuals spend part of their time working remotely and at their workplace. In other words, the concept makes use of employees working from their homes, office, or shared workspaces. An excellent example of an organization that makes use of hybrid working may require its employees to work four days remotely and two days at the office.

Before 2020, many employees were unfamiliar with the hybrid working concept. Hybrid working proved to be essential in the teeth of a pandemic. To most employers, it became the sun that warmed them through winter. It proved to be a temporary solution at a time when everything seemed to be a fire festival and a full-blown disaster.

Why is hybrid working popular?

According to the World Economic Forum, most workers who were lucky enough not to be laid off during the pandemic embraced the hybrid working pattern. To them, it was a blessing in disguise since they could handle their contractual duties without strict supervision. This meant that they could juggle their home responsibilities alongside their work duties.

A good example of people who benefited from hybrid working are parents who were required to go to schools and daycares to pick up their children after work. They no longer spend too much time in traffic getting home from their places of work. This meant that they had a bit of time to help their children with their homework, and make dinner with less stress, or have time to themselves. As such, 9-to-5 employees who were required to embrace hybrid working could effectively set time aside for leisure and work without straining too much. Below are some reasons why hybrid working has become so popular in less than eighteen months.

Flexibility

The reason why at least 75% of employees embrace hybrid working is that it promotes work-life balance. Most workers either spend too much time at their places of work or spend their time at home when they are on leave. As much as it might seem absurd, some people enjoy showing up for work because they don’t want to stay at home.

However, the other side of the coin of hybrid working highly favours employees who enjoy spending their time at home compared to spending their time at their places of work. Statistics show that the majority of the employees embrace hybrid working. To them, Jeremy Bentham’s concept of utilitarianism which discusses the greatest good for the greatest number comes to play. As such, the happier the employees are, the more productive they become. That said, it’s a no-brainer that hybrid working flexibility makes employees who embrace it become more productive.

Cost-Effective 

Hybrid working not only cuts costs to employees who spend a considerable amount of money on lunch and transport getting to and from their places of work, but it also helps employers save money. Finances that would otherwise be spent on utility bills, real estate, and other associated costs are directed elsewhere. This is advantageous to employers struggling to keep their businesses afloat in these challenging economic times.

The downsides of hybrid working

We all know that all that glitters is not gold. As much as hybrid working has its benefits, it has its fair share of disadvantages. Although it’s a necessary evil to most employers, some businesses have been counting their losses since the strategy was embraced. Below are some challenges that came with hybrid working.

Privacy protection

Most companies like to keep their data in safe hands. They make use of technology that shields them from hacking and privacy breach at their places of work. The embracement of hybrid working makes it hard for them to protect their personal and highly valued data from getting into the wrong hands. It’s hard to ‘firewall’ their employees’ tools of the trade. Work laptops can easily be hacked when employees are at home because they aren’t in a controlled environment.

Potential Inefficiency

Unfortunately, some employees are not efficient unless they are micro-managed. Such employees require close supervision because they slack when they are not closely monitored. These employees negatively affect their organizations. When they aren’t productive, they aren’t generating income for their employers. As a result, employers make losses when employees aren’t working from their offices or their usual workplace.

Other challenges that come with hybrid working include lack of inclusivity, fairness, and inequality. Some employees rely on their colleagues to accomplish their targets when it comes to innovation and collaboration. When such employees aren’t working with their colleagues, they are less productive.

Poor internet connections and WiFi issues pose a real problem and frustration to both the employer and employee. There is nothing as bad a poor connection in the middle of an important conference call.

As is evident, hybrid working has its advantages and disadvantages. Employers who want to continue making use of it after the government lifts its restrictions need to carefully evaluate its pros and cons before they decide on the best way forward. Those disadvantaged by the hybrid working model will probably resume with their traditional modes of business, while those who benefit from it should invest their time training their employees on the best ways to work from home.

Whatever model of work you choose putting the employees best interests and wellbeing at the core will no doubt work out best in the end. Putting people first – always!

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