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Is compromised office culture a price worth paying for hybrid working?

“The future of work is hybrid for many organisations, opening the door for not only greater employee flexibility, but also increased productivity. The findings of the latest Bupa Global Employee Wellbeing Index show how much can be gained through a flexible workplace, but the challenge now for leaders is to encourage team connection…”

UK businesses face a balancing act, as the increase in hybrid working boosts productivity, but findings show this may come at the expense of workplace culture.

The data from the latest research* indicates that over a third (35%) of UK business leaders feel implementing hybrid working has brought greater productivity to their organisations. Over a quarter (29 %) of UK executives said they had now embraced the benefits of hybrid working despite being previously dubious about the practice, with more than two-fifths (44%) saying they personally enjoy the flexibility of a hybrid workplace. Overall, over a third of UK business leaders (35%) agreed that working from home increases productivity.

However, the data shows that almost two-fifths of businesses (38%) are finding it difficult to successfully implement hybrid working practices, with just over a quarter (26%) preferring staff to be in the office. Additionally, just 15 percent of UK leaders said they felt culture had improved since the pandemic, the lowest of all of countries included in the study (See table 1).

Anthony Cabrelli, Managing Director at Bupa Global commented:“The future of work is hybrid for many organisations, opening the door for not only greater employee flexibility, but also increased productivity. The findings of the latest Bupa Global Employee Wellbeing Index show how much can be gained through a flexible workplace, but the challenge now for leaders is to encourage team connection, a sense of purpose, and maintain good employee health and wellbeing through a hybrid model.”

Getting the balance right – retaining workplace culture in a hybrid world

With the way we work continuing to change, Bupa Global, the premium insurer, has put together a series of best practice tips to help strike the right balance when it comes to hybrid working.

1. Prioritise staff health and wellbeing for staff wherever they work
While peak Covid is behind us, the legacy of the pandemic presents a range of potential health issues, from long Covid symptoms – affecting more than 1 million people in the UK– to a rise in musculoskeletal conditions linked to hybrid and home working. Recent Bupa research found that 42% of employees would be more likely to remain in a role if it offered good health and wellbeing benefits, showing that employees ascribe significant value to being looked after by their employer. By prioritising health for their employees wherever they work, whether that’s at home or at the office, organisations can create a culture in which their employees feel supported and valued.

2. Ensure office time is useful for employees
Using a healthy proportion of designated office days for collaborative work, creative tasks in groups, managerial catch ups and team building will help demonstrate why striking a balance between hybrid and home working can benefit everyone. Making sure that ‘in person’ days foster team connections and create a sense of community will strengthen company culture.

3. One size does not fit all
Employees will all have different priorities – culture means different things to different individuals. This means managers are an essential part of the process as they will be closer to their teams and colleagues, know how they work best and be able to adapt accordingly. With a foundation of hybrid and flexible work policies in place, leaders need to set expectations but also empower managers to make decisions on what works best for their teams.

4. Maintain rewards and recognition remotely
When implemented fairly, workplace rewards and recognition form a key part of management strategy to boost employee motivation and performance. A lack of recognition can be a strong contributing factor of burnout at work, which can only have a negative impact on company culture.

With team members and managers working remotely, it is especially important in a hybrid work setting that recognition, along with constructive feedback, happens regularly and in as structured a way as possible.

*Bupa Global Executive Wellbeing Index

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