Hybrid Working and Post-Pandemic Trends

A recent report released from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the number of workers who are working on a hybrid basis, splitting their week to work from home and their workplace, has risen since February this year by 11% with 24% of those responding saying they are now working this way.

Post-Pandemic Trends

Speaking to The AP Partnership’s clients as the world reopens, it seems that hybrid, as a way of working, isn’t going anywhere. Employers can see the benefits hybrid working offers its people. The added flexibility and time savings provide more options to those with caring responsibilities whether that’s for children, elderly relatives or the lockdown dog; and people are also enjoying the increased autonomy they have over their working day when based at home.

But there is hesitation too around the effects of so much time away from the workplace. Employers are concerned about knowledge transfer, a dilution in culture and people missing out on the general camaraderie and ‘togetherness’ that working, in person, in a supportive environment can offer. But is this simply the traditional office model clinging on to life? Do changes in technology and myriad social media options offer these same benefits albeit in a different way? Or are younger workers unknowingly missing out on work-based friendships and support?

Different hybrid approaches

It is also interesting to understand what people are looking for from a hybrid working policy. Employers are adopting a variety of approaches: some dictating specific days when people need to be in the office, some suggesting percentages of time per week for office attendance whilst others are leaving it entirely to the individual to decide where to work and when. Whilst the super-flexible approach might seem like the most appealing option for workers, feedback is showing that in many cases workers actually prefer a degree of certainty to their week with pre-arranged schedules to avoid cognitive overload in trying to cram everything in. Perhaps the solution is a pre-agreed pattern but with the ability to be flexible when needed; however, time will tell.

What about staff who can’t work from home?

Concerns are being aired about the potential for a divided workforce – the ONS report reveals, perhaps unsurprisingly, that lower earners were less likely to report hybrid working – only 8% of those earning up to £15,000 reported working on a hybrid basis as against 32% of those earning between £30,000 and £40,000. And whilst these employees may appreciate that logistically their roles simply cannot be performed from home, employees may be unhappy that they are not benefitting in the same way as their hybrid colleagues particularly in terms of the savings being made in relation to travel costs.

And travel costs present a potential tussle for employers more widely – with those who can work effectively from home starting to resent having to pay out for what some view now as ‘discretionary spend’. A trip to the office now has to be ‘worth it’, it seems.
So where does this leave us?

People’s lives and priorities have changed as a result of the pandemic with time now valued more highly. People are thinking deeply about how they want to spend their time – and it’s not all about work – families, communities, house moves and (of course) the dog all feature more highly than they did before on the list of priorities and people are looking to find employers who will support and accommodate these life changes. The knock-on effect, given the current war for talent, means employers are being pretty flexible with few wanting to set hard and fast rules – or not for the moment at least.

AP Support

The AP Partnership can provide a support for your staff’s hybrid working. We can provide hybrid agreements, policies and questionnaires, as well as homeworking documentation. To begin, we have provided a useful homeworking checklist that you can download here.
For further information, see the ONS report: Is Hybrid Working Here to Stay?

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