Over the past few years remote working offered a lifeline to many businesses, with some reports estimating that the need for remote working increased digitisation within businesses 40 times more quickly than was thought possible before the pandemic. New ways of working became an overnight necessity, but that disruption has created an opportunity for business leaders to place more trust in their employees, empowering them to create a work routine that helps them both personally and professionally. Termed ‘hybrid working’, this flexible way of working is where an employee can split their time between the workplace and working remotely. With work (more or less) back to normal, 57% of employees have said they prefer the hybrid work model, splitting work between in-office and home, with just 5% preferring to work remotely every day.
As many businesses continue to progress on their hybrid working journey, we wanted to take a look at the benefits and challenges that hybrid working can bring to your employer brand and engagement strategies.
Having the freedom of flexible working means that employees can reduce their commute time, and with more autonomy around their work schedules, there is extra time for them to focus on their health and wellbeing. Business owners can help support this by using their internal comms channels to run wellbeing campaigns that encourage healthy behaviours among their staff and inform them of benefits that are available to them.
34% of employees say that improved mental health is a key benefit of hybrid working, allowing them to enjoy a better work/life balance. However, hybrid work can carry its own risks to your employee’s health and wellbeing. Working remotely means that managers are not as easily able to pick up on the warning signs of colleagues who may need support. It is important to break the stigma and let staff know that they’re part of a supportive team and that they can reach out. Mental health training could also be considered, such as training provided by Oakleaf, whose courses can help your teams to spot the warning sign and be able to offer initial help and guide a person towards support.
One major benefit from a flexible working model for employers is that it provides greater opportunity to access a wider, more diverse pool when searching for top talent. By being able to offer greater flexibility for people who have, for example care responsibilities outside of work, perhaps to children or the elderly, those candidates (who are usually women) are more likely to consider a position where a daily commute isn’t a requirement.
Workplace discrimination costs the UK economy up to £127 billion in lost output every year. Treating everyone fairly is not only essential for building a happy and engaged workforce, but your business will reap all the employee engagement and talent attraction benefits of being more diverse, inclusive and equitable.
Whether it is in the office or working remotely, in-person meetings are still very much a regular part of working life. By turning the office into a destination for your team to come together for a particular meeting or to work on a specific project, it can put colleagues into a collaborative frame of mind, offering connection with others, and affinity with your brand and cultural values. This can make the workplace a positive environment for creativity and teamwork.
Not only can hybrid working benefit employers and employees, but it can also have a positive impact on the environment by reducing the need for high-carbon activities such as the daily commute to work. Whilst this working model can help businesses do their bit to protect the planet, it is important for employers to provide information and training, (such as that provided by 100 Ways), to employees to ensure that one carbon reduction isn’t undone by less environmentally friendly choices at home.
There are plenty of awareness and celebration days throughout the year that can help you focus your sustainability communications efforts, from Earth Day to International Clean Air Day, so use these opportunities to communicate green messages and your sustainability goals, and keep your team on track.
A concern of remote working has often been a belief that it will lead to a reduction in productivity, however a recent study from Great Place To Work, showed that with the reduction or removal of commutes and in-person meetings, people were more likely to do extra to get the job done. However, remote and hybrid working has been linked to an increase in burnout, with employees not being able to, or not having the room or facilities to separate their home and workspace in order to switch off.
In fact, according to Gartner, 40% of hybrid or remote employees report an increase in the length of their workday in the past 12 months. By communicating the signs and risks of burnout, and arranging check-ins and fact-to-face time, employers can drive a culture of empathy so that their teams are able to sustain a high level of productivity, whilst maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
If you’re looking for your support with your employee engagement strategy as your business goes through a period of change, then get in touch to see how we can help.
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