A hybrid approach to office and home working – is this the new normal?

By Rachael Smedley | News & Press | 6 min read

It’s safe to say that the last 17 months have been like no other. For many of us, Covid-19 has changed our every day routines completely. For those of us in office based jobs, many of us have spent the best part of that time working from home. Whilst many might be excited to be returning to the office, a lot of us are likely to be anxious about the return.

Lots of businesses, both in the UK, and globally, are now starting to adapt a flexible working approach  whereby employees are less bound to the typical Monday – Friday 9-5 in the office. Whilst there are many benefits to remote working, lots of businesses are also recognizing how important it is to get the balance between the two. Many businesses are taking a hybrid approach as a long term plan for their employees. They recognize the importance of empowering employees to create a plan which works for them as individuals as well as meeting the needs of the business.

According to research on home working, “Working adults stated work-life balance was the greatest positive, while challenges of collaboration were the greatest negative” therefore a hybrid approach in which work-life balance can still be maintained but there’s still opportunity for collaboration time seems like the perfect balance for employees whilst allowing for business needs to be met.

With so many businesses now adopting a flexible working approach, we’ve highlighted 5 and explored what they’re doing. If you’re stuck about how to create a flexible working from home policy, view our guide here

Gousto
Food subscription service, Gousto has introduced two initiatives. A ‘Work Where it Works’ and flexitime initiative, both aimed at helping its employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. Within the Work Where it Works initiative, employees have full autonomy over where they work and when with there being no maximum or minimum time required in the office. In addition to this, employees are also allowed to work up to 30 days a year abroad, ideal for those who may have relatives abroad. Alongside the Work Where it Works initiative, they’ve also introduced a flexi time initiative, Gousto are maintaining key working hours of 10am – 4pm however outside of that, employees can work flexibly where required providing they make up the time and still work their full hours. This is ideal for those with childcare or caring responsibilities.

Lily’s Kitchen
Whilst many businesses have or are adapting to flexible working patterns. It’s not a new concept for pet food brand, Lily’s Kitchen. Having already had a flexible working approach in place prior to the pandemic hitting, Lily’s Kitchen have simply adapted this policy and tweaked it to meet the needs of the business and the workforce as the pandemic and restrictions are easing. Alongside this, they offer a flexi-time option to employees, again with the aims of supporting any caring responsibilities so employees “work is not only done, but gets done to the best possible standard whilst maintaining a good work-life balance”

Edays
Here at Edays, we’re passionate about doing what’s best for our employees and that’s why we’ve also adopted a flexible working approach. There’s no maximum or minimum days employees are required to be in the office. We encourage our employees to be in regular contact with their managers to ensure they’re receiving the support they require. Discussing the approach, Sabrina Munns, People and Performance Director at Edays said “We know the last 17 months have been challenging. As individuals, we’ve all faced our own challenges in both our professional and personal lives due to the pandemic. We recognize that some of our staff may be desperate to return to the office on a more permanent basis whereas others will be accustomed to working from home and will only want to be in the office on a need be basis. We’re here to support our employees whatever their needs and requirements are and we believe a flexible working approach is a great way to do this”

Asda
With around 4,000 members of staff, Supermarket Giant, Asda announced earlier on in the year that Hybrid working would be a permanent approach they’d be taking. Giving staff the option of where they work, whether it be the office, home or even a store, Asda said the move “will encourage colleagues to select the best location to do their job”. Noting that often staff feel more productive working from home, autonomy will again be put on employees to strike a balance which best meets their needs. However, Asda employees are still encouraged to attend the office for activities better suited for an office environment such as meetings or training.

Nationwide
Another household name adopting a flexible working approach, Nationwide are allowing 13,000 of its 18,000 staff to work where they wish. Following a staff survey in which 57% of Nationwide’s employees said they wanted to work from home full-time after lockdown ends and more than a third (36%) said they preferred a mix of home and office-based work, the business announced the news earlier on this year. Speaking to BBC’s Today programme, Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide said: “The last year has taught many of us that ‘how’ we do our jobs is much more important than ‘where’ we do them from.” – a message which seems to be being echoed by many businesses.

 

As mentioned above, a flexible working approach does bring a lot of benefits however now, more than ever, you’ll likely want a finger on your absence pulse to monitor sickness and holidays closely whilst employees may be working from different locations. Investing in absence management software such as Edays is critical to ensure you have correct minimum staffing levels. Alongside this, you can be alerted if staff haven’t taken enough holiday reducing the risk of presenteeism and burnout and can have access to powerful data insights enabling you to spot absence patterns before they escalate into problems. Click here if you want to learn more.