The last three years have seen massive upheaval in the way many of us work. Some of us are now totally remote, whilst organisations have reimagined what a central office is from the main hub of activity to a place for occasional meetings and all-hands catch-ups.
Whilst there’s plenty of evidence to suggest the number of workers who are now working from home nearly all the time (around 14% here in the UK according to government figures), it has been less clear how many are working a hybrid role – or at least, what the structure of that role looks like now.
Now, new data has shone a light on what a normal working week looks like for many UK employees. Phone data analysis from Placemake.io and Visitor Insights has found that the typical week in the office now runs from Tuesday to Thursday, with many employees then working remotely at the start and end of the week.
On a macroeconomic level, the impact has both positives and negatives for different areas. Whilst main city centres are seeing less footfall throughout the week (and especially on Monday and Friday), coastal areas and commuter towns are seeing an increase in activity. People are staying, and shopping, more locally.
Analysts, backed by data, suggest that the old way of work is now long gone, and hybrid working is here to stay. But what does that mean for organisations? And what are the primary challenges that businesses will face when transitioning to a hybrid model of work?
Remaining competitive in the hiring market… and keeping the staff you already have
One of the primary challenges for organisations that are not currently offering hybrid working as part of their benefits packages is that they’re losing competitiveness in the jobs market.
Candidates across many industries have become accustomed to working from home and the benefits it delivers, leaving them reluctant to come back to the office… especially on a full-time basis. And hiring managers know that the top candidates are more likely than ever to choose a job that best matches their work/life expectations and well-being over cash alone.
Recent analysis suggests that around six in 10 employees would consider quitting a job if they were required to go back to the office full-time, with the figure increasing for younger workers. Marry that with data from CIPD in June last year showing that three-quarters of UK firms are now offering hybrid working; it means that businesses which don’t match the conditions being offered by the majority of their competitors will see struggles when it comes to hiring, and difficulties on the retention side of things too.
Creating a hybrid company culture
The overnight switch to remote working at the start of the pandemic saw HR teams and people leaders swing into action to try and maintain away-from-office productivity. And once the initial shock had subsided, the focus switched to creating a digital version of their once-in-office company culture.
Most organisations achieved this extremely well by adopting new schemes, strategies and technologies to help maintain the culture they’d spent years looking to build.
Hybrid working offers a fantastic opportunity for organisations to begin feeding some of those in-person team bonding schemes back into the cultural mix. But it can also present a bigger expense and more work for HR teams too.
When companies were fully remote, all energies (and investment) could be pumped into online team activities and initiatives. Everyone in the office? That simplifies things somewhat as well.
But a blended work approach means organisations need to maintain both an online and offline culture, especially for teams where workers have their own flexible schedules.
Staying connected and collaborative
A major part of maintaining culture but also project productivity and output for remote and hybrid organisations, has been how teammates can connect and collaborate.
The demand for professional messaging apps such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, alongside collaborative project management platforms, took off over the pandemic, and demand has remained pretty stable ever since.
Communication channels such as Slack have offered a great alternative to never-ending email threads, and a place to create a team and project-specific channels, as well as general chat groups and company announcement spaces too.
In the hybrid working era, these modes of communication need to be maintained but also blended with in-person communications.
The key to successfully blending the two is documentation. Face-to-face decisions need to be communicated to the wider remote team, whilst minute-taking and centralised file storage are key components too.
Good team leadership and project management skills have become even more important in this new commercial age.
Increased tech and software requirements
As noted previously, the overnight shift to online working saw huge uptake of and investment into centralised messaging platforms and project planning software. But the tech and software demands on organisations didn’t stop there.
Employees working either fully remote or a mix of home and office need their own devices which can travel with them, at the right level of spec to effectively carry out their role too. The latter is particularly important as almost half (yes, you read that correctly) of employees when surveyed, said they’d consider quitting their job if the tech being offered wasn’t up to the job.
The right tech is only half the story though. The tools, platforms and software we use every day have evolved too. In the new remote and hybrid-working world, software needs to be accessible from anywhere on the planet whilst still maintaining the best possible level of security and data compliance too.
This is especially true of business-critical software across HR, payroll and finance, where internal teams, and any outsourced partners, need to be able to securely access the right information at any time… and from anywhere.
Moving these systems into the cloud has revolutionised the way in which internal HR and finance teams can go about their work, and the benefits of doing so are more wide-ranging than you may think.
Learn more about the core benefits of cloud-based finance and accounting systems here.
This blog was written by Phase 3, they are an exhibitor on the HRTech247 Consulting & Advisory Partner floor of the Partners Hall. You can visit their virtual space here.