Wed, April 26, 2023
Hybrid working is no new concept, but the events of the last few years have firmly placed this model at the forefront of many companies’ agendas across the globe. With a sudden shift to remote work during the early stages of COVID-19, many employers and employees saw the potential for how this could be beneficial in the long term. Since then, companies have discovered the benefits as well as many challenges of hybrid working, posing the question is hybrid working in a post-COVID world the best way forward. What would it mean if remote working were here to stay?
At Ventrica, we have embraced hybrid working and were doing so even before the pandemic disrupted the working world. Here, we’ll look at the benefits of hybrid working for companies and employees, as well as hybrid workplace challenges, and what steps companies can take to successfully implement a hybrid model if they are not already doing so.
Taking the hybrid route seems to be the fashion right now, but this trend doesn’t owe its existence entirely to the pandemic. Hybrid working has been around in some shape or form for decades, depending on the type of work being performed. Whilst some roles would be very difficult to do remotely, such as front-line public services, others are much more fitting to a hybrid approach, such as admin, office-based and non-public-facing roles.
Hybrid working is a flexible working arrangement whereby employees can work from home or other locations away from an office site whilst also being available to attend in-person meetings, team training and other activities as required. Due to the advancement of technology such as cloud services and high-speed internet, the trend has grown over the years until the point where the pandemic accelerated adoption further. Many employees enjoy the flexibility it provides, whilst companies can save money on resources by not requiring full-time, in-office staff.
Some of the benefits of hybrid working include:
It’s easy to see why many people who may not have experienced hybrid working before enjoyed the experience and the advantages it can bring. For employers, those that have been able to continue with a remote or hybrid model post-pandemic have been able to keep their employees happy and reduce employee turnover. Those that haven’t implemented hybrid working have experienced friction with their teams who may have one eye on other opportunities in this job market.
Due to the sudden shift to working from home in March 2020, companies had to quickly adapt. Those that already had hybrid working were able to do so quickly compared to other companies. Whilst there are many benefits of hybrid working that were seen during this time, it posed some pain points too. Some of the challenges of hybrid working include:
Whilst some individuals flourish in a remote environment, others may struggle more with communication and collaboration, meaning a lack of cohesiveness. This can impact productivity overall and may leave employees feeling isolated when working from home. There is also a danger of blurring the lines between employees’ work-life and personal life if not working to an established routine.
According to the ONS, data from February 2022 showed that 84% of workers who worked from home due to COVID-19 restrictions planned to carry on a mix of working from home and in-office work going forward. This is in contrast to the 8% of workers who planned to return to in-office work permanently. Many want to have a hybrid approach and flexibility on when to work in-office and when to work from home. However, as many companies learned during the pandemic, not all employees are suited to this way of working. All employers have had to learn lessons and find a more efficient way to maintain hybrid working.
Since the initial impact of COVID-19 on work life, we are now in a period where hybrid working has become the norm. According to data published by Google, office footfall across the world has continued to stay lower than pre-pandemic levels, with the UK experiencing 24% fewer commuting trips to workplaces in October 2022 when compared to 2020. This is a trend seen in the US, Canada, Germany, Japan, and other prominent world economies. The hybrid approach has been fully embraced, so what will the future of hybrid work hold?
Long-term, many more companies will permanently adopt hybrid working based on performance and employee feedback. After all, happier employees generally means higher productivity and better results. If the signs are that hybrid working is an overall positive for both employees and the customer experience, it can be hard to argue against it. However, to make this a permanent solution, investment is needed in technology to ensure it works efficiently. Not getting the basics right with poor resource planning, or adopting the model for the wrong reasons, can all lead hybrid working to fail over the long-term.
In the UK, many companies have embraced hybrid working post-pandemic, including retailers and e-commerce businesses. In 2021, online retail giant Very Group confirmed they were embracing hybrid working for good with changes to their contact centre allowing for more flexible working. The CEO of BIRA (The British Independent Retailers Association) also “urged” retailers to consider adopting a hybrid working model to help lower risks of declining consumer confidence. There are many examples of hybrid being the way forward for many types of businesses in the last few years, but to succeed in the long term, key decisions have to be made.
To be successful, the right technology needs to be implemented to support hybrid workers, and there needs to be a real focus on well-being. The drawbacks have to be considered alongside the advantages such as workers feeling isolated or disconnected if communication isn’t great. Also, employers need to think about how managers can support and engage remote workers in the same way as those in the office. It’s a tricky balancing act managing a hybrid workplace but one that can be successful if strategically implemented.
As many as 63% of high-growth companies have adopted a hybrid work model. For some companies to do so, they may need to reimagine their approach to connecting with their employees and find ways to enable their management teams to train and support effectively. Here are some of the ways this may look:
It’s increasingly difficult to ignore hybrid working, but there can be many reasons for companies to be slow on the uptake. It can be difficult to know where to start and how to implement a huge change to current working processes. With an increasing number of employees wanting flexibility and the potential for cost-savings for business leaders, there’s no sign of hybrid working just being a flash in the pan. However, it needs careful planning and consideration of both the challenges and advantages before moving forward.
If you are a business currently assessing various pain points relating to your current processes, using BPO services may help. Whether you worry about having sufficient resources to cover peak demand periods, or are wanting to ensure you can provide an enhanced customer experience, we may be able to help you at Ventrica. To find out more, contact our team today to discuss your current challenges.
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