Hybrid Working: How to find the perfect balance of productivity and flexibility

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Hybrid working has now become a topic of contention between employers and employees. 

High-profile experts such as Elon Musk and Lord Alan Sugar have become outspoken critics about work-from-home culture.

Meanwhile, multiple studies have shown hybrid working conditions have led to an increase in productivity. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that 38% of employers saw an increase in efficiency compared to just 13% who reported a decrease. 

Hybrid working has an important role to play in the future of work. That’s why it’s crucial to find the perfect balance of productivity and flexibility for both employers and employees.

As the world of work continues to evolve, adopting and refining a hybrid working strategy will become essential. In this guide, we’ll dive into the benefits and disadvantages of hybrid working to help you decide if it’s right for your business.

What is hybrid working?

A hybrid working model is a combination of in-office and remote working.

The difference between hybrid working and remote working comes down to the requirements of attending the office. While remote working gives employees total autonomy about where they work, hybrid working means they split their time between the office and home.

Hybrid working arrangements can exist in many forms, including:

  • Flexible scheduling: Allowing employees to choose the days they attend the office and which days they log on remotely.
  • Core office hours: Some jobs have immovable set hours and may require employees to be present at the office during this time. 
  • Rotating schedules: Employers may opt for a rotating schedule to reduce overcrowding at the office. 

Introducing a hybrid working policy should factor in the core business requirements while attempting to be flexible around employee needs. The meaning of hybrid working is a balance between operational efficiency and employee well-being.

Benefits of hybrid working

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, 80% of Irish employees have worked remotely. A study by the University of Birmingham found that 76% of managers believed working from home boosted productivity.

A blended working approach could become the new normal for businesses. However, the pandemic’s effect on home working has diminished, so companies are reassessing their remote and hybrid working needs. 

Let’s take a look at the benefits for employers who choose to keep hybrid working in Ireland:

What are the benefits of hybrid working for employers?

Hybrid working offers a number of benefits to employers that in-office or fully remote setups may not, including:

  • Reduced overheads: Hybrid work can help businesses to reduce their overhead costs by downsizing their office space and reducing costs on utilities.
  • Reduced employee turnover: Studies have shown that employees who work in hybrid arrangements are more likely to stay with their company longer. This is likely due to the increased flexibility and work-life balance that hybrid work offers.
  • Access to a wider talent pool: Hybrid work allows employers to recruit and retain top talent from a wider geographic area, as employees are not limited to working within commuting distance of the office.

In addition to these benefits, hybrid work can also help employers to improve employee morale and productivity and to create a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

What are the benefits of hybrid working for employees?

Employees got a taste of remote working during the pandemic, and some are reluctant to return to a fully office-based schedule. However, Hybrid work offers a middle ground, allowing employees to enjoy the flexibility of working from home while still maintaining some of the social and collaborative benefits of the office.

Here are some of the benefits of hybrid work for employees:

  • Reduced stress and improved work-life balance: Hybrid work gives employees more control over their own schedules and environments. This can lead to reduced stress and improved work-life balance.
  • Increased productivity: Studies have shown that hybrid workers are often more productive than their fully remote or fully office-based counterparts. This is likely because hybrid work allows employees to find the best environment and avoid the distractions of working from home or the office.
  • Improved collaboration and communication: Hybrid work allows employees to collaborate and communicate with each other in various ways, including in-person, virtually, and through a combination of both. This can help to improve teamwork and productivity.
  • Reduced costs: Hybrid work can save employees money by reducing commuting costs and other day-to-day work-related expenses.

Disadvantages of hybrid working

While there are certainly benefits to hybrid working, it’s not suited to every individual or every business. In fact, working from home can lead to some employees feeling directionless and less connected to their jobs.

So, let’s consider the disadvantages of switching to a hybrid working policy:

What are the disadvantages of hybrid working for employers?

While hybrid work offers several benefits for employers, but there are also some potential disadvantages to be considered:

  • Not all roles are suitable for hybrid work: Some roles, such as customer service representatives or chefs, require employees to be physically present in the workplace. For these roles, hybrid work may not be an option.
  • Increased stress for managers: Managing a hybrid workforce can be more challenging than managing a fully in-office or remote workforce. Managers may need to learn new skills and strategies to be effective in this environment.
  • Delays in communication: Virtual communication can sometimes be less efficient than face-to-face communication, and it can be more difficult to collaborate on projects when team members are not physically together.
  • Potential for miscommunication: Virtual communication can lead to misunderstandings, especially if important visual or audio cues are missed.

What are the disadvantages of hybrid working for employees?

While hybrid work offers several benefits for employees, there are also some potential disadvantages to be considered:

  • Risk of isolation: Working in a hybrid environment can be isolating, as employees may not have the same opportunities to socialise and build relationships with their colleagues as they would in a fully in-office environment.
  • Lack of support: Employees who work from home may need immediate access to the support they need from their managers and colleagues. This can be incredibly challenging for new employees or employees working on complex projects.
  • Difficulty switching off: It can be difficult for employees to switch off from work when they are working from home. This can lead to burnout and other health problems.
  • Increased costs and stress of commuting: Employees who work from home may still need to commute to the office regularly, which can be costly and stressful for those living far away from their workplace.

When discussing a Right to Request Remote Working request, it is essential to consider both the benefits and disadvantages of hybrid work. Not everyone is suited to working from home, so developing a plan to review the situation regularly is important.

Is hybrid working the future of work?

According to a study by Stanford University, 32% of employees never want to return to the office. For some employees, at least, hybrid working is the only future of work. Although the reality is a little different.

Advancements in technology mean hybrid working isn’t a fleeting trend but a genuine alternative to working policies. However, switching to a hybrid model may be longer than some would like.

Trust has become the biggest sticking in blended working, with 85% of managers surveyed by Microsoft finding it harder to have confidence in staff performance. If a manager struggles to trust work-from-home employees, there’s a risk of increased micromanagement. Leaders must learn and demonstrate trust in their employees. But employees need to do their part as well to earn this. 

However, since a hybrid working policy is a top priority for prospective employees, hiring the best people may hinge on it.

How to balance productivity and flexibility to succeed with hybrid working

Incorporating a hybrid working model can be a significant advantage to your business, but it can be risky. Here’s some advice on making the most out of this switch and how to improve hybrid working:

  1. Communicate expectations: Create a hybrid working policy and clearly outline what’s expected from employees who work from home.
  2. Use the right tools: Adopt the best communication tools to ensure employees stay connected. Look at video conferencing, project management, and cloud storage.
  3. Check-ins with employees: Schedule regular check-ins for work and well-being matters.

It can be a good idea to start with a small proportion of the workforce as a trial before rolling out the policy company-wide. Letting one team switch to hybrid working can iron out any kinks before the policy is fully incorporated.

How to measure the success of hybrid working

Measuring the effectiveness of hybrid working policies from time to time is crucial for employers to help them keep up with changing times. Below is a list of tips to guide you in measuring the success of your hybrid working model: 

  1. Conduct employee surveys to identify how satisfied your staff are with the new policy changes and ask for their feedback.
  2. Keep track of any changes in individual productivity and across the team as a whole.
  3. Measure over a period of time whether hybrid working has reduced employee turnover.
  4. Consider whether hybrid working is costing the company more money or less money.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer when evaluating the above. Flexibility is key to a successful hybrid working model. Insights gathered over time will help refine your policy, integrating hybrid working more deeply into your organisation’s culture.

Finding the right hybrid working job with Recruit Ireland

Hybrid working isn’t a momentary change in how we work, but a fundamental shift in flexibility. Switching to a hybrid working model isn’t just about adapting to the present but also preparing for the future. This policy change puts the needs and preferences of employees at the heart of their schedules. It allows them to adjust their work environment in a way that best suits their individual circumstances.

Recruit Ireland recognises the changing needs of the job market. We’re here to help connect job seekers to find opportunities that offer more flexibility. The Recruit Ireland job search portal features hundreds of hybrid working positions nationwide.

Whether you’re an employer aiming to attract the best talent with a hybrid working policy or a job seeker who needs more flexibility, Recruit Ireland is your trusted partner in this journey.

The Recruit Ireland job platform and advice centre provide all the resources you need to stay informed and make the best decisions for your career or business.


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