Is Remote Working Changing to a Hybrid Model?

Shannon Chamber HR is a dedicated HR and Employment Law Support Service for members of Shannon Chamber provided in partnership with Adare Human Resource Management, experts in Employment Law, Industrial Relations, Human Resources and Health & Safety at preferential rates.

As Organisations across the country consider plans for a return to the workplace, many are weighing up the options that might work best for their business. This week, Derek McKay, Managing Director of Adare Human Resource Management, looks at how the practices of remote working has gone to-date and what the next phase of working models looks like.

There is no doubt that given the speed at which the country locked down, there was an impressive pivot to remote working and, as we’ve noted in previous articles, it worked well. Early signs across all sectors showed no negative impact on productivity, in some cases levels were up. Employee engagement worked reasonably well across various virtual platforms, such as Zoom and Teams. Signals pointed to remote working as being the future of working in many ways.

There has been recent media coverage that shows some of the bigger multi-national companies are allowing employees continue to work remotely once the pandemic is over and, in certain circumstances, letting employees move to offices in different global locations. However, there are others that are taking a different approach; a hybrid model and of course organisations who are planning a full return to the office.

Hybrid working

It was reported that after looking at the pros and cons of future working patterns, Dropbox has decided to adopt a hybrid working model. But what is a hybrid model? Simply put, it is a combination of office and remote working; and the mix can differ from not only Organisation to Organisation but can be from employee to employee.

There has been an abundance of research and surveys done over the past 18 months in relation to remote working, mostly from the perspective of the employee. At Adare Human Resource Management, we’ve been monitoring employers’ feelings about remote working and there has generally been a positive reaction. For many, they now look at some form of remote working as a key benefit in terms of talent attraction and employee retention. So, it’s clear that remote working will continue to play a role in the employment landscape.

The question for most Organisations, however, will be how much of a role and what is the right mix of remote and office-based working is the most efficient for the success of the business?

What’s right for my business?

There is no right or wrong approach – but if employers and employees work together in the best interests of their shared vision for their own Organisation, then they will shape a working model that works for them.

There are a number of key considerations for both employers and employees to consider.

Will hybrid working lead to success within my Organisation?

Firstly, employers need to carefully consider what model aligns most effectively with their business strategy and objectives, and if either remote or hybrid working is suitable for their business once public health advice signals a return to the workplace. However, a longer-term view needs to be taken – a decision to simply return to the office just because you can, may not necessarily be the right one, particularly in light of what some of your competitors might be doing and ensuring they don’t poach some of your best talent with a different/ hybrid model.

Engage with, and listen to your employees; however, don’t let their responses be your primary influence in decision-making. We know remote working has worked, we know employees like the flexibility it offers and it’s a contributing factor to a better work life balance. But it does have potential downsides; less collaboration negatively impacts innovation, employees can feel isolated, performance management can be more complicated, which in turn can lead to issues if not conducted in line with correct procedure and legislation.

And, as mentioned above, no one Organisation has the perfect solution; ‘trial and error’ or ‘pilot’ is what may be required. Finding the right mix of hybrid working that suits your business and employees will take time, there are numerous components to consider while all the time ensuring keeping a close eye on compliance, security, GDPR and Organisational KPIs.

We have previously written about the Future of Work and the various influences that are shaping the future of the workplace. How employers and employees engage is hugely important to this evolution. But this isn’t a time for naivety; while employers want the best for their employees and want the best employees, they need to create the best model that fits their business needs.

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For further information on the HR and Employment Law support services provided, to arrange a meeting or to receive a quote, contact the team at Shannon Chamber – / 061 360 611