‘No one size fits all for hybrid working’

A new study by Leeds University Business School says many employees lack a dedicated space for homeworking so managers implementing hybrid working need to ensure they don’t impose a one size fits all approach.

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OVERHEAD Caucasian female working from home, having a video call with colleagues. Stay home, quarantine remote work

Over a third of UK office workers have no dedicated workspace at home and only six percent have been trained for hybrid meetings, reveals a new report from Leeds University Business School.

The research, led by Dr Matthew Davis, Associate Professor in Organisational Psychology at Leeds University Business School, says the lack of a dedicated workspace means workers can have very different experiences of hybrid working meaning staff in charge of designing or updating hybrid working schemes should avoid trying to force a “one size fits all” policy and include employees in the creation process if they want it to be successful.

Analysis of in-depth employee data shows that working from home without access to a specific desk or separate room (for instance,  having to use a kitchen table or the sofa) is associated with lower performance, job satisfaction and engagement, say the researchers.

The report contains a set of practical solutions managers can use to improve hybrid working and address potential areas of tension, such as employees feeling disconnected from colleagues and managers.

“An effective hybrid workplace is more than a HR policy or office design issue. It is a socio-technical problem, essentially affecting all aspects of work and requiring knock-on changes to IT, work processes, organisational goals and culture to be successful. The key to successful hybrid working is good management – clear and demonstrable objectives and outputs, active communication and feedback whether remote or in-person working,,” says Dr Davis.

Other tensions stemming from hybrid working addressed in the report include the development of an “us versus them” mentality among employees and excessive supervision from managers.

The researchers recommend where possible implementing principles of work rather than strict rules which reduce working flexibility, undermining the key benefit many employees say they value from hybrid working.

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