Why organisations need to hire a hybrid working support officer

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Written by Frank Weishaupt on 11 January 2021 in Opinion
Opinion

A new working reality calls for a newly created job role, says Frank Weishaupt.

Whilst working from home is nothing new, the pandemic has forced attitudes towards this way of working to shift dramatically. Industries and organisations who once thought WFH was unsuitable for their teams were obligated to implement procedures and practices to enable employees to work from the comfort of their own home and interact with co-workers and customers virtually. 

To support this shift, organisations need to consider creating a new role in the human resources department to help those having a difficult time being separated from their colleagues and embrace the work from anywhere movement.

Flexibility creates possibilities

Although some companies were hesitant to let their employees work remotely prior to the pandemic, over fears of low productivity levels and distractions, research has shown that productivity has remained the same or even improved. This can largely be attributed to the increased adoption of technology, which is helping teams stay connected, increasing collaboration and improving work ethic.

As employees get more comfortable working from home, having the ability to properly get tasks completed without having to commute into the office to do so, is just one of the countless benefits flexible working provides.

From having a better work-life balance, spending less time and money on transportation, increasing savings and customisable offices, this way of working is becoming an expectation not a privilege.

Now is the time that companies should be experimenting and discovering what works best for them and their employees.

However, whilst working remotely has its benefits, these benefits do come with their own set of unique challenges. Working outside of the office is not for everyone, as some may be less productive or distracted due to children, spouses or pets, or the inability to set up a proper home office. 

As a result, some are ready to head back to the office. A recent data report, which surveyed 2,000 full-time workers in the UK, revealed that 35% of individuals would prefer to work from an office to achieve a better work-life balance.

As highlighted above, working from home is not practical for everyone and therefore, we are likely to see an increase in hybrid teams as employees choose to work from locations which suit them best.

Whilst many organisations have continued to be productive during the pandemic, this is not the case for everyone. Remote working has worsened productivity and collaboration for organisations who struggled with teamwork before the pandemic.

For example, a study conducted by Harvard Business School and New York University on productivity levels within organisations, found that people are now spending more time in meetings, rather than getting actual work done, as the number of meetings within organisations increased by 12.9% during the pandemic.

Therefore, finding a balance between employees working from anywhere and employees working in the office is now key for businesses seeking to improve or maintain their productivity levels.

Managing a hybrid workforce

Whilst hybrid working can be an ideal working model that has its benefits for employees, especially those who are parents or caretakers, it is not always easy to implement, and can bring a host of challenges, which if not addressed can cause significant problems down the road.

 

Some issues may include a divide between the at-home crowd and in-office crowd, resulting in a two-tiered workforce with remote employees unintentionally excluded as others interact frequently within offices.

To avoid and prevent such issues, employers should now consider creating a new human resources role and implementing new policies dedicated to ensuring their staff, whether remote or in the office, feel their needs are catered to.

Hiring a dedicated ‘hybrid working support officer’ is therefore, not only important for maintaining productivity, but ensuring employee satisfaction, motivation and overall business performance.

HR teams have already had to adapt significantly to employees' varying wants and needs as a result of the pandemic, implementing new workplace guidelines to consider and adopt COVID-19 health and safety regulations, especially with 65% of workers stating that free PPE (masks and antibacterial gel), should be provided by their employer.

With a work from anywhere movement being pushed forward, the role of HR must continue to focus on helping employees balance working remotely and coming into the office a few days a week.

Various tasks will increase in importance, such as training and development for remote staff, providing funding for remote workers’ digital equipment and connectivity, changes in job descriptions to accommodate remote and flexible working policies, and recruitment and retention.

However, implementing this new role of a hybrid working support officer is just the first step. The next is to ensure that companies are implementing policies and procedures which makes the transition to a hybrid workplace easier.

It's important that HR teams remain flexible, especially during this uncertain and unstable time. New work patterns that have been created by the pandemic can change, and as vaccinations start to be rolled out, workers may start to feel more comfortable going into the office part-time.

Now is the time that companies should be experimenting and discovering what works best for them and their employees.

Embracing technology to keep us connected

As companies start to find their feet with new hybrid working models, the importance of clear communication cannot be underestimated. Although hybrid working increases flexibility and independence, miscommunication can easily happen with employees located all over the country or world.

Companies should also not shy away from technology software and hardware that helps facilitate communication. Integrating remote workers with in-office workers can be difficult, but the right video conferencing tools can help.

Having reliable software and hardware that provides quality video, audio and WiFi connection is vital for remote workers to remain connected to those in the office.

Overall, the pandemic has caused unprecedented shifts in working habits, and companies have been forced to adopt remote and hybrid working models that will remain as employees will expect a more flexible working environment.

In order for these new working models to prove beneficial in the future, they need to be executed properly with employers implementing policies that focus on both remote teams and in-office teams, and are prepared for the unique challenges that can arise. 

 

About the author

Frank Weishaupt is CEO of Owl Labs

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