Hybrid Working – A Taste of Things To Come?

April 23, 2021

As companies around the UK grapple with the challenges of the post-Covid workplace, the term ‘hybrid working’ has become more prominent. The idea of spending some of the time in the office and the rest working at home reminds me of that type of bread that blends ‘the best of both’.

Just as bakers use their loaf to combine white and whole meal flour to make ‘the best of both,’ the mixture of two very different ingredients could be the taste of things to come for the world of work.

Hybrid working seems to be a popular  some companies as Covid lockdown restrictions are eased. BP recently announced that its office-based staff will be expected to spend two days a week working from home in the future.

The ‘Home Office’

This move by BP is no doubt also helping them to save money. Like a lot workers across the country, many of the company’s office-based UK employees have been working from home full-time since the start of the pandemic. They were also expected to bear the brunt of redundancies announced last year.

Some businesses are assessing how much office space they actually need. Personnel Today reported that the bank, Santander, has decided to reduce the number of its main offices. It’s good to hear they are also helping staff meet the extra cost of working from home, such as higher utility bills.

Home working is certainly favoured by a number of the major tech companies. Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter have all said that staff will have the option to work from home permanently.

However, the boss of investment bank Goldman Sachs, David Solomon, has rejected the idea of remote working being the ‘new normal’. While he admitted the Covid effect had accelerated the adoption of digital technology and increased efficiency, he felt home working wasn’t compatible with the firm’s culture and would mean new apprentices would not get the direct support they needed.

Water Cooler Moments

Nevertheless, while some people crave the social interaction of the office environment and are more productive as a result, others might benefit from not having the distractions of colleagues interrupting their concentration.  A recent survey suggested home-workers put in an extra ten hours each week compared to when they were in the office.

One contributor to a radio phone-in on the subject of hybrid working said it was dangerous to have a rose-tinted view of what life was like in the office every day. Yes, there were times of laughter and useful water cooler moments. But for many, he said, it meant travelling in stressful traffic jams in order to write emails and attend meeting after meeting.

Another listener presented a strong case for having a separation between your work and home lives. Shouldn’t home be a place purely for refuge, relaxation and recuperation? By working from home are you really living at work?

The boss of Britain’s largest office and retail complex was reported as saying that a lot of staff are ‘fatigued’ by working from home and have missed office and city centre life. According to the report, Howard Dawber from the Canary Wharf Group said people will still want to divide their time between the office and home.

For those who have been fortunate enough to start new jobs during the pandemic, it could now mean stepping inside the office for the first time. After months of remote working, they may be worried about how they will get on with their new colleagues and the boss.

From a recruitment point of view, I can use my experience to help employers identify the right candidates for home working– the self-starters who can use their own initiative when required. However, it’s equally important to ensure the correct support framework is in place for staff when they are working away from the office.

Looking ahead, I’m certain that a combination of both office and home working will be a recipe for success for many companies and employees. Businesses and workers can choose what is the most productive solution for their situation. Provided that the work gets done, earning a crust could mean enjoying the best of both worlds.


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