Firms should adopt a hybrid model as they return to work

As mandatory working from home lifts, managers should be aware that employee expectations around how they work have evolved significantly. In a report (registration) published by Soldo in collaboration with several UK universities, management experts advise that companies need to radically redesign their business processes. Employees who worked productively at home throughout the lockdown will strongly resist managers enforcing limitations on where and when they do their work.

Dr. Naeema Pasha, Director of Henley Careers, Henley Business School (HBS), University of Reading cautions:  “UK businesses must be prepared for employee resistance if, post-lockdown, managers try to force their teams back to exactly the way things were before.”

The team at HBS, who before the lockdown created the three-stage model for remote working to help companies structure a gradual move to distributed teams, have now added a fourth stage covering employees moving back into shared workspaces called ‘Reconnect and Revive’. This addition to the model means that businesses need to acknowledge that their employees will expect their original working conditions to be revised.

Dr Pasha continues: “If you have remote workers who return to the office environment, expect to see some degree of permanent change in their attitudes and needs. Some will ask whether the business needs everyone in the workplace at the same time. Equally, others will never want to work from home again – “too much proximity to the fridge is not good for me!”

The report claims that these differences point to the idea that companies need to consider a hybrid model that allows much greater flexibility for workers to do their jobs from the locations where they’re most productive.

Embracing a hybrid working model will have some major implications that businesses need to consider. With team members distributed across distances – some preferring the office environment and others getting more done without long commutes – managers need to look at what has been successful during the lockdown and apply that to a more permanent way of working.

The report claims there are five key areas in which managers need to redesign how they run their teams.

  1. Structure their teams for agility
  2. Transform key employees into leaders
  3. Be aware of their duty of care for the physical and mental health of their teams
  4. Distribute company money efficiently to empower autonomy
  5. Leverage technology to facilitate new levels of productivity