5 things that hybrid working is not

1st December 2020 Off By Vanessa Tierney
Digital Products Manager

Workplace transformation has become one of the hottest topics of 2020, and hybrid working is most definitely a part of that conversation. But there are some things that a hybrid approach to the office of tomorrow should never be…

1 An excuse to get people to buy their own tech

SMEs often don’t have lots of cash to spare, and it might be tempting for the owners of microenterprises in particular to try and make a saving by getting work-from-home members of their team to shell out for their own tech.

This is just plain wrong. A remote worker is already missing out on a lot of the benefits of being in an office (though there are ways to mitigate against this – see what Yonderdesk is doing to merge remote and in-office teams via ‘virtual real estate’ for example); the least a business owner can do is ensure that they’re as well kitted out for work duties as their office-based colleagues.

Making sure all of the team has the right tech comes with many advantages: workers properly equipped for the job; hardware with the latest software patches installed; proper ownership of both the machine and the data it contains.

Yes, your work-from-home team can use their own equipment if they want to (so long as it is properly protected), but they shouldn’t be expected to support your business by dipping into their own pocket.

2/ A way to get out of holding corporate social events

Another cost-cutting option for managers is to assume that now part of the team is based at home, there’s little point in having Friday night ‘beer club’ or those expensive team away-days that HR likes to insist on.

The opposite is true: a hybrid team by its very nature comes with a risk of employees feeling disconnected from each other. It is management’s job to ensure that both the in-office and work-from-home cohorts are properly integrated and that everyone feels they have a role to play. Social events are a fantastic way to boost camaraderie and support for the brand.

3/ A secret plan to create an A team and a B team

Managers would be unwise to nudge certain employees into mostly home-based work while encouraging their star players to come into the office every day.

If they do try and ‘stream’ their workers, an A-team (the in-office cohort) and a work-from-home B team will inevitably develop, and cracks will appear. When done well, hybrid working offers each employee the working situation that best suits them. And most people, according to recent surveys, still want to come into the office between one and four days a week.

4/ A reason to shrink your HR department

‘Less people in the office, less need for HR to be bothering themselves with what the team gets up to’ – there might be some logic there, but it’s a deeply flawed idea.

When employees work from home, studies show that they need every bit as much support as in-office workers, if not more, as feelings of isolation and being out of the loop often set in.

HR has an incredible role to play in the creation of the new hybrid workforce – now’s a time to invest in them and help them rather than poke them back into their corner.

5/ A way for remote workers to shrug off any commitment to the company’s values

Turning the spotlight onto workers who are now based at home for part of the week (or even all of the time): these employees need to remember that they still form part of a much larger whole.

This can be tricky when the view from the window is no longer the office car park but the neighbour’s back garden, but it’s important to try and replicate the office banter, group collaboration and ready access to company news as best as possible.

Tech tools enable this – and managers will profit in the long term if they find a way to make sure their remote workers still feel like they are part of the team and that their efforts reflect the company’s vision and values.