Why employers need to work on the hybrid workplace

A safer hybrid workplace is key for employees returning to the office environment at least some days a week.
8 September 2021

The City of London on March 24, 2021 as life continues with England following a government roadmap to easing the coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

While the hybrid workplace is still being debated, it is now becoming the working model preferred by many companies. With COVID-19 restrictions lifted in the UK since July, employers are requesting their employees to return to offices for work. As such, Central London recently saw pre-pandemic activities increase as employees made their way back to offices.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, 78% of business leaders were anticipating some negative fall-out on productivity from remote working during the pandemic. However, the pandemic also demonstrated to many businesses the resilience of their office workers and the success of pivoting to a hybrid model. It also stressed the need to maintain a healthy corporate culture in the face of all this change.

Despite the hybrid working model seemingly preferable by most employees, new research has shown that hybrid workers experience a high loss of time and business as they undergo the shift. The survey, from workforce analytics specialist, Scalable Software, finds an average of 6.96 hours per week are wasted as employees struggle with a lack of access to technology and with technology that doesn’t work.

The amount equates to a significant annual productivity loss of £2.1bn for UK PLC. Employees are working an extra 2.2 weeks a year because of poorly designed workflows, a lack of user-friendly applications, or because they are not equipped with the right technology.

According to Mark Devereux, CTO, Scalable Software. “There’s no doubt that spotting and rectifying technology or wellbeing issues is harder when the workforce is dispersed, but organizations must act now to cut out this waste. This means ensuring an in-depth understanding of employee’s hybrid working experience. This will reduce the impact of bad experiences on employees and the business, and halt the “mission creep” of work into home life before it has a detrimental effect on wellbeing. Ultimately, organizations need a new lens through which to measure the impact of hybrid working so they can help employees thrive.”

A safer hybrid workplace is key for employees returning to the office environment at least some days a week.

A safer hybrid workplace is key for employees returning to the office environment at least some days a week. (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP)

Enabling a hybrid workplace

To ensure a proper hybrid workplace, employers need to take the right steps. This includes ensuring the workplace infrastructure in the office and devices used by employees are well prepared for any situation. From securing company devices or granting access to employees for sensitive data, these actions may seem simple but can make a big difference to productivity if not handled properly.

Be it large or small and medium enterprises, employers need to ensure their staff has the capabilities to be productive no matter where they work. The hybrid work experience has to be flexible, adaptable, and scalable for employees whether in the office or out.

Ideally, most companies would want their employees back in the office, particularly those dealing with sensitive data. However, with the pandemic still capable of disrupting the workforce, they need to ensure their hybrid workplace is well planned.

At the same time, ADP research reports that being on-site makes it 60% more likely for employees to have ad hoc conversations with co-workers.  Of that 60%, men working remotely were more likely to have spontaneous catch-up chats than women, only 55% of whom said their working week was likely to include unplanned conversations. While such actions may not disrupt productivity, it help avoid the problems of mental fatigue and burnout, especially for remote working employees.

Having realized this, some companies have given more flexibilities to remote work employees. In fact, 72% of hybrid workers claimed to have received positive feedback about their work, compared to 57% on-site workers.

Tech giants like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and such have already delayed their return-to-work plans, while banks and financial institutions in the US are requesting their employees be fully vaccinated before returning to work or spend at least two days in the office.

The reality is, the hybrid workplace can only be perfected with the right tools in place. For Scalable’s Devereux, this means having sophisticated workforce analytics that bridges the gap between IT and HR and provides common and consistent metrics. This includes data from physical technology assets, as well as insights into an individual’s working patterns and interactions.

“When businesses understand the digital journey in detail, they can make changes to measure, optimize and transform the employee experience, and stop time and money being wasted,” said Devereux.