How to Strike the Balance with Hybrid Working
Hybrid working is a growing trend in the workplace, allowing employees to work in a way that suits them best, while helping to retain talent and improve employee satisfaction scores. Employees can choose where they want to work, be it from home or the office, while still having regular access to their colleagues and managers.
We all want remote workers and on-site teams to move seamlessly between locations and still feel connected. But this isn’t always easy in practice, especially when there are so many factors involved, including communication, company culture, and equipping your team with the tools for success.
Australian Hybrid Working Trends
A Reinventing Work Report from Adaptavist showed Australia had the highest percentage of hybrid workers (34%) compared with those in the US, UK, and Canada (with an average of 29%). Other findings included:
- More Australian workplaces are offering hybrid options to staff (50%) compared with international organisations (with an average of 44%)
- Domestic ‘cost of working’ factors are shaping attitudes about returning to the physical office
- More than 40% of Australian workers were concerned about the additional costs of going back to the office, with a data analysis suggesting the price of fuel, public transport, and road tolls was driving a preference for hybrid working arrangements
- Almost 30% of Australian respondents said they wanted reimbursement for commuting costs or free parking, followed by 28% voting for free food and beverages
- More than 40% of Australian respondents said they suffered anxiety about returning to the office, and a further 34% said that anxiety was due to the commute
- More Australians are looking for hybrid work arrangements than their international peers, with 55% of local respondents (compared with the international average of 43%) reporting they were in the office full time despite a preference not to be
Given the importance of getting the balance right, here are some tips for ensuring a successful hybrid working practice:
- Encourage a sense of community
A sense of community is important, as it makes employees feel like they belong and are part of something bigger than themselves, which can help foster loyalty. Additionally, it gives them the opportunity to connect with each other on a personal level which may enhance collaboration and teamwork in the office.
Weekly ‘wind-down’ meetings on a Friday afternoon can be a good opportunity to review the week together in a more informal manner that bridges the gap between work and socialising. Alternatively, you could organise events such as movie nights or bowling outings so that team members can spend time together outside of work hours.
- Set expectations
Setting clear expectations is key to success in any workplace. Whether employees are in-office or remote, everyone should know what is expected of them and their responsibilities.
It’s important to make sure that work is equally distributed among your team members. If there's an important project that needs to be completed quickly, don't assign it to one person. Instead, distribute the task/s among several different people so that no one feels overwhelmed or excluded from opportunities for advancement.
- Equip staff to succeed
When considering the steps to take, it’s important to consider the entire process from beginning to end. To be successful with hybrid working, you will need:
- The right tools
This includes equipment that allows workers to perform their jobs remotely and easily. It might include software for collaboration and video conferencing capabilities.
- The right infrastructure
This is not just about having the right technology, but also about ensuring that it meets the needs of your team members in terms of their individual work styles, their preferred ways of communicating with each other (email, chat, or video conferencing), as well as any technical or operational requirements.
- The right mindset
Your team will need to be committed to the idea of hybrid working and ready for it to become part of their everyday lives. They will also need to understand the benefits of remote work, such as flexibility and productivity.
For hybrid working to be successful, you must make it easy for employees to do their best work, wherever they are. Hybrid working can be a powerful tool for businesses, but it requires a lot of thought about how to use it effectively. People need the right tools, skills, and mindset, plus a support network that includes colleagues in the office as well as remote workers.
If you’re considering introducing remote workers or allowing your employees to work from home, make sure that you have the infrastructure in place to support them. Hybrid working doesn’t just have an impact your physical location, it also affects your business culture. You should aim to create an environment where everyone feels like they belong and knows their role, no matter where or when they do their job.