Flexible working can be defined as "working arrangements that provide people with a degree of flexibility over where, when, and how they work," with hybrid working specifically referring to "a combination of office-remote arrangements" (Parliament 2022). Undeniably, the UK COVID-19 lockdown marked a turning point as statutory guidance mandated workers to work remotely whenever possible. Post-lockdown, it seems that this directive sparked a profound shift in work culture, prompting a revolutionary movement toward remote / hybrid working for employees in the UK.
However, with the lifting of national lockdowns, a crucial question emerges: What defines the 'new normal'? The landscape of work has arguably been forever altered, and the concept of flexibility takes on a new significance.
Demonstrated through the reported 80% of workers who worked remotely throughout the pandemic, having a desire to work under a hybrid structure today (Parliament 2023). With 40% of UK businesses noting an increase in flexible working requests since the pandemic (CIPD 2023). As organisations grapple with decisions about remote, hybrid, or onsite working arrangements, it becomes imperative to assess the implications on the workforce and talent retention / acquisition.
Seemingly, there is a presumed enhancement of work-life balance associated with flexible working arrangements. The ability to effectively fulfil out-of-work responsibilities, whether through alternative working hours or locations, has proven to be a pivotal element in advocating for hybrid working.
In the current competitive landscape for candidates, this could serve as a valuable asset—recent studies reveal that 66% of UK businesses acknowledge the significance of promoting flexible working arrangements as a talent method technique (CIPD 2023). They assert that it is a crucial factor in retaining existing staff and attracting new talent – with research showing some workers value increased flexibility in the same league as a pay rise.
However, despite the apparent improvement in balance, remote roles and hybrid arrangements may contribute to a challenge in disengaging from work at the end of the day (Parliament 2023). Distractions encountered at home throughout the day, which may not be present in a traditional workplace, have been cited as factors that can hinder productivity, resulting in work extending into after-hours. Nevertheless, according to ONS (2022), 47% of hybrid workers assert that this model has enhanced their well-being with little impact on their productivity levels.
Moreover, it seems imperative to highlight the potential reduction of social interaction that individuals may encounter while remote working. The absence of tangible job visibility, coupled with reduced social engagement, has given rise to feelings of loneliness among some individuals working from home (Werber 2023).
Naturally, there is a need for further development on an operational level for employers who manage a workforce both remotely and in the office. Balancing workflow efficiency while monitoring progress in terms of milestones, goals, and deadlines has necessitated the implementation of more advanced systems in some companies (Burleson 2022). The proliferation of cloud-based file systems such as OneDrive and Google Docs has proven to be highly beneficial in addressing these challenges.
Nevertheless, the ongoing debate regarding the fear reduced productivity at home continues to be of prevalence. Research indicates that employers have a worry that a decline in development and progression among employees when working from home may occur (Werber 2022).
However, this argument can be mitigated by the assertion that a hybrid model facilitates essential developmental activities to be conducted on in-person days, allowing for focused tasks and administrative duties, to be carried out at home (Shaw 2022). Moreover, employees contend that they feel more productive in their home setting, citing the reduced stress from eliminating the commute and the comfort of their environment, which, in turn, enables better information absorption, thus increased motivation to progress internally.
At this moment, it is crucial to acknowledge that the challenges experienced by remote workers may not be mirrored to the same extent by hybrid workers which we are focusing on in this case, given their partial time spent in the office with colleagues in person.
Gratton (2021) reinforces the concept of varying needs between employers and employee's and the nuances that arise from these differences. There is a heightened importance in urging management to consider the impact of location / time on workflow, projects, and productivity when designing a company-specific hybrid working model. Understanding these distinctions is vital for crafting strategies that cater to the unique requirements of both employees and employers in a hybrid work setting (Gratton 2021).
In conclusion, the hybrid working model elicits contrasting opinions. From our perspective through working closely with a diverse range of clients who provide hybrid, remote, and onsite roles, it is evident that the culture of a company often aligns with the work arrangement and package it offers.
The key takeaway is that the right hire is one who resonates with the company's ethos and operational style. While hybrid working can expand the available talent pool, we completely acknowledge that it may not suit every company.
Therefore, at Axon Moore, we invest significant time and effort in comprehensively understanding each of our clients. This ensures that when the time comes, we can deliver talent that not only possesses the required skills but also aligns seamlessly with the values and work culture of the respective company.
If you have any questions or matters you wish to discuss on the following, or would like to run through anything talent acquisition related and find out more about Axon Moore then please reach out to me on the following firstname.lastname@example.org/ 07341 000380.