Emerging hybrid working practice

Employers who have hybrid working policies or have thought hybrid through tend to be more likely to mandate fewer days in the office, a survey shows.

woman working at home on the computer

 

Having a hybrid working policy makes employers less likely to expect their employees to be in the office for more than three days a week, according to a survey released last week. The survey by the Chartered Management Institute was interesting because it looked at how employers are implementing hybrid and how it is becoming the norm.

Eighty-four per cent of managers surveyed said their employer was offering hybrid working, but there was also a push to get people back to the office. Those with hybrid working policies mostly specified between two and three days a week in the office for full-timers. Those without policies were more likely to want people in for more days.

This goes against survey after survey which says employees want two to three days in the office. It’s a difficult balancing act and much of this is very much in the experimental phase. I was talking to someone last week whose employer has been 100% working from home for the last two years. It is going cold turkey and making everyone come back to the office five days a week in the next few weeks. There was no consultation and there is no easing in process. The person I was talking to has a 1.5 hour commute to work either way. Unsurprisingly, he is thinking of leaving.

Surely it is not a particularly good business move to expect everyone to transfer back to full time from the office with no sense of the need for a gradual transition. We see this with parental leave too. Those employers who help people ease back in tend to have higher retention rates. Vodafone, for instance, has an award-winning global maternity policy whereby people have a few months to work reduced hours on full pay in order to ease back in. The business benefits in terms of retention and attraction are clear and the move recognises that having a baby is a big transition and that it takes time to re-enter the work mindset after doing something completely different for several months to a year. It’s not only that: there are childcare logistics and emotional turmoil to consider. I recall daughter one deciding not to drink any formula milk for the first week in protest.

People who have been working from home for the last two years will have got into a routine. They may be emotionally fragile after all the twists and turns of the pandemic. They may have suffered bereavement. The only way to know how they are feeling and how they view any return to ‘normality’ is to ask them. Knowing what your employees are thinking is surely a wise move for any employer who wants to motivate and retain their staff.

Having a policy linked to the return to the office also shows you have thought things through. Of course, larger companies have greater resources and a greater need to devise policies which clarify for line managers what the position is. Having a policy is not the be all and end all, but showing you have given some degree of thought to what the impact of this major transition might be is important – particularly in an employees’ job market.



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