In the great return to office, many possibilities (and pitfalls) remain. Now is the time for business leaders to actively address the best ways of working and delve deeper into building an infrastructure compatible with hybrid working. According to CEO and Founder Ari Last, “Too much discussion surrounding hybrid working is fixated on where the employee is going to be physically, instead of how we as leaders intend to keep people’s work and personal lives in balance.”
Not everyone has the environment to be able to work from home effectively, nor can everyone deal with the strain that comes with five days of commuting. In recognition of this, the share of remote roles advertised on job boards has skyrocketed between 5x and 20x across all industry sectors.
Signs of the UK job market permanently embracing hybrid working are plentiful. The pandemic triggered a rebalancing in employee values and work expectations for which there is no one-size-fits-all policy. According to a survey conducted by PGL, the pandemic helped 3 in 5 working parents realise they weren’t spending enough time with their children with the overwhelming majority planning to change their working life post-lockdown.
The key to unlocking productivity and happiness is understanding and supporting the full spectrum of working patterns of every employee. To harness the potential of your workforce you need to work with their diverse arrangements, not against them. Just as Zoom meetings became ubiquitous, a more robust offering of hybrid-friendly benefits are also essential to retaining and attracting talent with a better way of work.
While flexible work policy plays a large role, technology is also needed to ensure equal access to a stable remote work environment. For young people, who are more likely to rent, their living circumstances may not be amenable to home work without support from leadership. On the other side of the spectrum, it’s become increasingly difficult for working parents to make it into the office or perform at full capacity when working from home with traditional childcare provisions.
Lest businesses pay the price, proactive steps must be taken to ensure hybrid working differences don’t result in indirect biases towards or against employee groups. Backtracking on employee inclusion and connectivity progress made over the pandemic can only have a negative impact on D&I, company morale and performance. According to Last, “Making sure you’re giving every employee the tools to thrive and succeed comes first. In our case businesses are talking to us about flexible childcare support for their working parents.”
As employees settle into their preferred hybrid working patterns, business leaders must consider what is necessary to maximise performance and satisfaction across the workforce. Senior executives in the most competitive industries are already integrating flexible childcare and other nontraditional benefits into their infrastructure with the hopes of amplifying the business gains of the pandemic. Over the coming months, it will take responsive action on all sides to ensure hybrid working is a success.