The pros and cons of flexible working

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Written by Nick Gallimore on 8 June 2021 in Opinion
Opinion

Nick Gallimore on why hybrid working will be the foundation for the future of work.

Hybrid working is almost certainly going to play a big part in many people’s working life once offices fully re-open again. A lot of people will be reluctant to return to an office-based work life, having grown accustomed to working from home, and many enjoying the experience.

They may also have found remote working has offered them a better work-life balance, due to less travel time and more flexibility of their day. Many organisations would struggle to have all employees return to offices too, having downsized their office space during the pandemic in order to cut spending, meaning not all staff will have a permanent desk space. 

There are a lot of positives surrounding a part remote, part office way of working. It offers people a chance to spend some days in the quiet of their home, working on solo projects, then other days in the office to exchange ideas with colleagues.

Being able to work from home also results in less staff sick days, as the need to travel and the fear of getting others ill is eliminated. Some studies have even shown an increase in productivity when working remotely a few days a week as opposed to fully in the office.

Hybrid working should not be a ‘one size fits all’ model. Every organisation should think about what is right for them

However, many organisations are sceptical about long term hybrid working, and it does come with its own set of challenges.  

Hybrid working can become a challenge when there are unaligned expectations between employees and managers. To make it really work, lines of communication should be open, ensuring HR, managers and staff are all clear about what is expected of them. Many companies have already put new policies in place for this purpose, in order to eliminate any grey areas. 

There are also concerns about socioeconomic inequality between who is able to work from home in comfort, and who is not. These concerns stem from a number of things such as the quality of internet access, the luxury of big roomy houses to make working from home comfortable, versus those who may live in smaller or overcrowded homes. 

Then there are personality factors that also need to be taken into account. Some people work better with a fixed routine and may find it inefficient to switch routines between remote and office. Hybrid working may also have a different effect on people that are introverts and those that are extroverts.

Extroverts tend to thrive around other people and that’s where they get their energy. Hybrid working may become more challenging if they have to work from home some days of the week. Whereas someone introverted may dread the idea of returning to a busy office and having to socialise daily.  

Hybrid working should not be a ‘one size fits all’ model. Every organisation should think about what is right for them, and then look at what works for individual employees.

It makes no sense to say ‘everybody works from home 50% of the week’ if one person hates their home set up and works best in an office, and another thrives being at home and has proven themselves a productive remote worker. This can be determined by line managers having an honest and open conversation with their employees to find out what works best for them. 

By using continuous performance management, managers and HR can track employee’s productivity, to see if they are reaching their set goals and staying engaged.

This means that if their performance does start to suffer, conversations can be had to review the situation and determine a solution, which could include altering the split between remote and office working. As well as work performance, regular check-ins with staff can also help with their wellbeing, allowing them to voice concerns and needs. 

While hybrid working is new and possibly quite daunting for many companies, if done right, hybrid working can be a huge benefit for organisations and staff. Companies with flexible working are more likely to keep staff, and as well as making recruiting easier.

Many people like this flexible style of working and are able to figure out a home office balance that works well for them. The idea that all staff need to be in an office in order to be productive and perform well is quickly becoming an outdated one.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us people can work well from home, but many enjoy the option of an office space, which is why it makes sense for hybrid working to be the foundation for future of work.

 

About the author

Nick Gallimore is director of talent transformation and insight at Advanced

 

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