Why leaders must be transparent about hybrid working

A quick summary:

What does hybrid working mean? 🔎

The importance of openness and honesty in the workplace ✅

Benefits of hybrid working 🏆

An employee wellbeing platform for your team 💚

Hybrid working has become the new normal. In 2022, (also known as the post-pandemic year) employers are battling with their workforce for a full return to the office environment. Yet, studies show that employees prefer the flexibility and option that hybrid working presents.

In recent months, many companies have begun a gradual return to the office. And there appears to be a divided opinion on what’s best for everyone. In this blog post, we’re responding to recent reports on the positives and negatives of hybrid working. 

With the likes of Tesla’s Elon Musk demanding an office return at the start of June, and  Lord Sugar’s “lazy gits” tweet earlier in May, the idea of flexible working is under scrutiny. But what really is the answer for leaders of modern and forward-thinking companies? How do openness and honesty in the workplace help with bringing employees back into the office? 

Let’s find out!

What does hybrid working mean?

Let’s kick things off with the basics… what does hybrid working mean? Since the global pandemic, many companies turned to a hybrid working model. This meant that employees worked at their desks for a certain amount of days per week, and remained at home for the rest. It’s as simple as that. 

And while the system appeared to work well, given the many studies around maintaining productivity and boosting employee wellbeing, many organisations demanded a return. In recent months, the notion of hybrid working has come under fire from business giants and other leaders around the world. 

As society leaves behind the rules that COVID-19 brought with it, remote and hybrid working shows no sign of slowing down. Rather than fighting against the tide, how can leaders embrace hybrid working for a happier workforce?

Similar read: Fostering a positive organisational culture for better productivity

Why openness and honesty in the workplace are key

The answer to many hybrid working woes that leaders face is openness and honesty in the workplace. Ultimately, decisions must be made with the thoughts and feelings of a workforce. It is decisions made without consideration and with only demand, that drive top talent to leave. 

Since Musk’s statement, the backlash has been heavy, with many recruiters targeting Tesla employees. This demonstrates the power of hybrid working and the necessity for flexibility in our working lives. Many job specifications and advertisements now highlight their hybrid working policy - it’s become a real game-changer for job searchers. 

If employers want to make hybrid working manageable and effective, it must be done with honesty in the workplace. Leaders need to include employees in the workforce, carry out return to the office surveys to quash any concerns, and fundamentally, listen to their people. 

Too often, employers are disregarding the needs of their employees, and in the modern workplace, flexibility is high on the agenda. In one report of around 4,000 employees, it was found that 86% feel unheard or not equally heard compared with their colleagues. 

Open communication in most scenarios in life can counteract any misunderstandings, misjudgements and problems. That’s equally as true in the workplace. Leaders should express their concerns with the hybrid work environment, and allow for feedback and thoughts on the topic from employees. If leaders are worried about productivity and performance levels, it must be raised with leadership teams. 

Granted, leaders mustn’t appear to question their team’s work ethic, but with the right approach, problems can be discussed, and objectives can be put in place to ensure hybrid working is effective. 

If the global pandemic taught the world of work anything, it’s that honesty in the workplace and open communication are key. Leaders must draw on the past two years, and their team’s previous ability to work well from home. While it might be hard to retract from remote to hybrid, it isn’t impossible - with enough compassion and compromise, solutions can be found. 

Similar read: 4 employee benefits that support your remote team

Benefits of hybrid working

Let’s explore some of the benefits of hybrid working in 2022, giving you a clearer reason to consider why it can work! 

Supports employees during an economic downturn

If anything is certain in today’s world, it’s that economic downturn appears to be heading towards the UK economy. With higher rates of inflation for the past 40 years, employers need to look at alternative ways to support their team. With the prospect of a recession looming, many won’t see pay rises, and others will lose their jobs completely. 

We’ve covered the pros and cons of employee benefits vs pay rises extensively, but when it comes to remote and hybrid working, it’s a must in today’s society. By adopting a hybrid working schedule, leaders can minimise commuting costs and help make life that little more affordable. 

Contributes to a culture of health and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing are big topics in the modern workplace. More than ever, employees are recognising the power of leading healthier, happier lives; likewise, employers must see the benefit wellbeing has to business performance, staff retention and morale.

A workplace that embraces hybrid and remote work in the name of healthier, happier employees is one that is building a culture of wellbeing. And that kind of reputation not only benefits both parties, but it improves the image and outlook people have of an organisation, i.e to potential new hires. 

In the past couple of years, mental health and wellbeing have been unavoidable obstacles in the workplace, and leaders are learning to approach these subjects with openness and empathy - doing away with the taboo that typically plagues discussion around them.

Support wellbeing by implementing hybrid working. Show employees that you do care about their health and happiness, and want them to achieve a great work-life balance. 

It’s exactly what employees want in the modern workplace

Finally, let’s discuss the real issue at hand. Employees want to work hybrid or remote. In a survey of 9,000 employees carried out by communication tool Slack, 72% said they prefer hybrid or remote working model. A surprising 12% favoured the office environment, proving that hybrid and remote working flexibility wins. 

In a survey conducted by PwC of 1,200 US workers and 120 executives, 73% of respondents of the executive group responding saying remote work had been a success.

To put it into simple terms, employees have found a fondness with hybrid and remote work. In the minds of workers, it is the beginning of a healthier and happier future. For that reason, it makes our list of benefits as to why leaders should consider it, instead of doing away with the idea. 

Although the topic has made the press a lot lately, we believe hybrid working does work, and can work for your company. Approach your concerns with openness and honesty in the workplace and your team will respond much cooperatively. 

Refrain from passive listening and little action. The world is filled with uncertainty and instability, and the last thing employees want is miscommunication and a whirlwind of decisions thrown at them - especially those that play a pivotal role in job satisfaction, personal wellbeing and engagement in the workplace. 

An employee wellbeing platform to support workplace wellbeing

Hybrid working is just one angle of an overall push for better employee wellbeing. Your company must also build a wellbeing strategy to support the future of your business and employees. Our employee wellbeing platform helps leaders create a culture of wellbeing through thousands of experiences, products and services. 

Why not find out more about Heka? And when you’re ready, our wellbeing experts are on hand to answer any questions and tell you the benefits of using our employee wellbeing platform!

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