It’s hard to find a silver lining to the Covid pandemic, but if there was one, it would be the cultural shift in the way we now work.

Since we were forced to change the way we work, many businesses are finding that the new normal is far from what we were all used to pre-pandemic. The days of overworking, coming in at 7am and leaving at 8pm, Monday to Friday are starting to become more of a distant memory and something you see more in a 90’s Rom Com with the female protagonist working all hours in a fancy high rise office space. In 2022, that Rom Com would most likely feature that girl on a zoom call; smart shirt on top, pyjama bottoms below, working from her kitchen table. This is something many of us have become accustomed to. And now, with the eye of the pandemic storm behind us, why haven’t we gone back to the old ways?

Well, quite frankly, because the old ways weren’t necessarily the best ways. They were just what we were used to, with no real push or reason to shake things up.

Although the hybrid week, the four-day week and the nine-day fortnight are all things that were being used in business before, the pandemic has certainly been the catalyst for a huge number of businesses making this shift.

 

The hybrid week – what is it?

It’s a pattern whereby staff split time between desks and a remote location, often their own home.

This way of working has shown an improvement of well-being, productivity, retention and employee satisfaction. People with experience in hybrid working tend to say it gives them more freedom and autonomy over where and how they work.

Plus, even though staff may be working the same hours, they don’t have to commute to office for five days per week, meaning they gain time back that they would have otherwise spend in the car, or on the bus or train. Especially if they have children or other commitments, they are able to do the school run and then come back to their desk without fear of interrupting the office working day.

A recent survey by the Boston Consulting Group found 86% of British workers said they benefited from home-working, with respondents citing better work-life balance and fewer distractions.

A hybrid way of working has also shown to not only help shrink expensive office space, but it attracts talent too. A report by workplace platform Envoy earlier this year found 40% of workers would take a lower-paid job if it meant they could divide work between their homes and office.

Now that we have had a taste of working a different way, it’s something that a lot of businesses are sticking to.

Despite the many benefits to this ‘new’ way of working, it’s important to experiment and figure out which type of working is best for you.

Have conversations with your staff about this. Let them discuss if they would benefit from working from home for some of the week. Some staff have found that solely working from home, they miss the social interaction from colleagues, and they find it hard to communicate on shared projects. So, by working from both home and in the office, they get the best of both worlds – they are able to come in for meetings and then working on the things that they need to really concentrate on at home or in an alternative work environment.

 

Some things to consider before going hybrid.

  • Who needs to be to the office and when? Will it make the employees life harder or easier working remotely for a certain number of days of the week?
  • Do you have the technology to facilitate it, and can you track transition plans? Think about cyber security and confidentiality of work when employees are working from home or from a workspace out of the company office.
  • Do you need a hybrid working manual? Will new training measures be required?
  • Is it worth trialling this first to see if it works for your company before jumping in?

 

What are other businesses doing?

Many big-name corporations like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Nationwide, HSBC, BP and Lloyds are embracing hybrid working. 83% of workers want to split time between office and home. Unilever have come out to say that the five-days a week office pattern is “very old-fashioned”.

Some companies have bid farewell to their office for good, possibly because they can slash their rental costs. Around 4% of firms are intending to allow staff to work permanently at home according to a Federation of Small Businesses survey. Permanent remote-working jobs are also rising. Pre-pandemic they represented 1% of recruitment firm Reed’s job vacancies advertised. At the end of 2021 it was at 5%.

Hybrid working is one of the options of allowing employees a healthier work-life balance. A nine-day fortnight or a four-day work week has proven to be a very popular for many businesses across the country – us being one of them.

Whyfield adapted it’s way of working back in March 2022 by introducing the four-day work week. Employees agreed to work an hour extra per day in exchange for a whole extra day off per week, allowing for time at home or out doing the things they love. You can read all about that here.

 

Whatever you’re planning to do to shake things up in your business post-pandemic, make sure to speak to your employees and speak to other businesses who have done the same. Get as much feedback as you can and trial it if you need to so you can make the move to a more modern way of working.

 

Information for this blog post was taken from ‘Going hybrid’ by Christian Koch from AT – Accounting Technician Magazine.