In the new world of work where hybrid working has become the norm, Adrian Lewis, Director at Activ People HR says businesses need HR technology to manage this permanent change and limit any negative impact on productivity and wellbeing.
Adrian’s comments follow the latest stats from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)[i] that showed more than a third of working adults in the UK spent at least part of their time working from home this spring, with the proportion of people hybrid working growing even as Covid restrictions eased.
Hospitality firms also report changes in city centres with many employees now working in the office midweek and bookending the working week at home on Mondays and Fridays[ii].
Adrian said: “There is a growing need for firms to adopt hybrid working to attract, recruit and retain talent, so this can no longer be seen as a temporary change because of the pandemic. Employees are increasingly demanding to work more flexibly, and it can bring significant benefits both for the employee and employer.
“However, businesses need to make sure they can manage their workforce, even if they are working in different locations on different days and provide a cohesive working week for all, that doesn’t impact business operations or people’s wellbeing in a negative way.”
ONS reported that workers said that the main benefits of working at home for at least part of the week included improved work-life balance (78%); quicker to complete work at home (52%) and improved wellbeing (47%).
A study in the USA by Airtasker[iii], suggested that those working remotely “worked 1.4 more days every month, or 16.8 more days every year” than people who worked in an office. However, they also found that working from home can be more stressful than working at the office for some – highlighting that it won’t suit everyone.
Adrian adds: “To successfully manage hybrid and flexible working requires technology that can provide an accurate, real-time overview of staff whereabouts to ensure the business can operate efficiently. There is also more of a need to keep track of absence, from sick leave to holidays with people working different days and not always visible to managers.
“Absence management software can be used to track absence and gives managers’ real-time overview of where people are on a daily basis. This not only enables them to plan cover if needed, it can help spot trends such as people being off sick a lot.
“Looking after wellbeing is a priority for businesses, but with people working at home it can be difficult to spot if someone is not doing so well. Absence software can help spot patterns in behaviour which could be red flags that someone is struggling. It also prompts return to work interviews which can be done face to face or remotely.
“This software relieves the administrative burden on HR teams and makes requesting and approving holiday leave seamless. Other solutions such as appraisal software can help businesses manage the process of effectively, nurturing talent and engaging employees. Appraisals can often get forgotten if people are in and out of the office, so dedicated software that schedules these in is vital.
“HR technology can support employers to make hybrid working a success for both the business and their workforce. If gives visibility and enables companies to understand employee behaviour. They can use this data to plan, as well as ensure they have a happy, motivated and productive workforce, no matter where they work.”