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Why hybrid working is good for business

  • 3.5 mins read
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Happier employees, lower overheads, greater productivity – what’s not to love about the hybrid workplace?

The pandemic quickly blurred the boundaries between home and work. Zoom and Teams calls gave us glimpses of our colleagues’ domestic lives – children and pets invaded workspaces, housemates drifted into kitchens to raid the fridge, doorbells rang with deliveries. But over the summer of 2021, as COVID restrictions in some countries started to lift, people started to dial in to video calls from more traditional workspaces: office desks and meeting rooms. The shift to hybrid working had begun.

Our Future of Work survey reveals that for many companies, hybrid working is the way forward. Just one in twenty (5%) businesses believe that they will not see any form of remote working in future.

What’s the appeal of hybrid?

In commercial terms, hybrid working makes sense. There are significant savings on office overheads if your employees work from home some of the time. And it can boost productivity levels, 77% of higher-growth companies in our survey report higher productivity levels. A similar proportion (66%) say it will help them expand into new markets.

Crucially, it’s what many employees want: flexible working policies and an emphasis on employee wellbeing are a close second to salary and benefits when it comes to moving jobs.

77% of higher-growth companies report higher productivity levels with hybrid working

How hybrid should you go?

The magic question that many employers are mulling over now is what is the optimal hybrid working arrangement?

There is a broad range of opinion as to what hybrid working looks like. More than a third (34%) of businesses are planning to offer full flexibility, giving employees the freedom to choose whether they go into the office or work onsite. This approach is most popular with higher growth businesses, with 41% opting for this, compared with just 30% of lower growth businesses.

There are regional variations, too. Two fifths (43%) of Indian and (42%) of UAE businesses are embracing the fully flexible route. But German (25%) and Australian (28%) companies are less keen on this approach.

4 colleagues having a discussion after a meeting

The wider benefits of hybrid

Improved employee wellbeing is cited by 71% of companies as the most important aspect of hybrid working, but there are other benefits. Greater sustainability is a major upside – two thirds (66%) of businesses expect a shift in working patterns to boost their environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials and 69% think hybrid working will be good for the environment – more remote working means fewer emissions from commuting.

For some roles collaboration and co-ordination might be the key productivity drivers – in which case key touchpoints may need to be face-to-face. For others, focus may be crucial – and perhaps this is easier done from home.

Dr Anna Gurun | Future of Work Consortium

Dr Anna Gurun, a director at the Future of Work Research Consortium, says: “This past year has in some ways accelerated a shift that was already occurring within work, and raised expectations (from employees and organisations) around flexibility and speed of change.

“Employees realised that they were able to be, in many cases, more productive while working from home. Making a shift in ways of working is crucial in order to respond to these expectations.”

She says for some roles “collaboration and co-ordination might be the key productivity drivers – in which case key touchpoints may need to be face-to-face,” while for others, “focus may be crucial – and perhaps this is easier done from home.”

The evidence from our Future of Work survey around the advantages of hybrid working is compelling. Finding a flexible work arrangement which works for businesses and its employees looks destined to become a core aspect of future business strategies.

Five ways to make hybrid work

  1. Determine which roles need to be done on-site or in an office and identify vulnerable staff members who may require more flexibility
  2. Ask employees about their working preferences, encouraging them to express their needs, wants and expectations
  3. Review meeting platforms such as Teams, Slack and Zoom and provide training where necessary
  4. Consider offering ongoing mental health support and inclusion policies to help staff who are working remotely
  5. Define eligibility and communicate the new plan effectively to staff

HSBC Navigator: The Future of Work

The Navigator: Future of Work survey was conducted by FTI Consulting on behalf of HSBC. Research was conducted online from 3rd to 8th August 2021 with 2,130 respondents who are involved in or influence strategic direction for their company in 10 markets: UK, USA, UAE, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Mexico, Australia and Germany.

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