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Hybrid working, what does this mean for businesses in 2022?

Ian Nicholas, Global Managing Director - Reed

More workers have now realised the benefits of remote working and are eager to see aspects of it being implemented into businesses’ future plans. Essentially, workers are seeing the benefits – they enjoy the flexibility and the option to balance work with their personal life, an aspect which is especially apt for working parents. Statistics support this, with more than half (60%) of workers saying their work-life balance is better since starting hybrid working and nearly a third (31%) stating that they are more productive at work since adopting a hybrid approach.

Much of the reasoning behind implementing a hybrid model is to harness the productivity gains organisations witness when their workforce works remotely during pandemic-related restrictions. 31% believed they had been more productive since adopting hybrid working, and over half (55%) said that their productivity had remained the same, illustrating that a significant majority do not believe that the new model has negatively impacted their productivity. And with some companies being able to downsize on office space with more people working remotely part-time, a hybrid working model for these businesses seems like a good option.

Recent research from Reed also revealed how businesses are currently navigating the new working ‘normal’ and the rise of hybrid working, revealing that 45% of office workers that are not hybrid working would consider leaving their job to do so.

While this statistic is something no one would have predicted pre-pandemic, hybrid and remote working is navigating the current jobs market through a transformation, one that is being somewhat dictated by jobseekers rather than employers themselves.

What the hybrid working approach means for businesses
Coming into 2022, businesses are going to be forward-thinking and preparing for the year ahead while taking in the lessons the pandemic has taught. Reed’s ‘Skills for success’ survey carried out in November 2020 found that more people were looking for a new job during the pandemic, citing reasons as varied as wanting a better work-life balance (35%) – which essentially could be solved by adopting a hybrid working model – not feeling valued by their employer (34%) and re-evaluating priorities (33%).

Businesses may be apprehensive about change and switching from workplace working to hybrid or fully remote. Some employers have invested thousands into offices and don’t want to see that money go down the drain. In addition to this, some CEOs still believe that working in the office rather than at home is important and essential for maintaining professionalism and progression in one’s career. However, the evidence talks, and to retain staff, as well as attract new talent in this candidate-driven market, businesses must think hard about how to improve and change their current people strategies.

Any retention strategy will be unique to every organisation, as each employer faces different hurdles. What is important, is that whatever you chose to implement, it must seek to address employee concerns and works for your organisation. A one size fits all approach will not work. Just as some people don’t want to spend five days in the office, many also don’t want to spend five days working remotely and you also need to consider professionals who are unable to work remotely.

It is not just about retention. By having a strategy that listens and looks after the workforce, businesses will naturally become closer to being a forerunner in their industry, as well as an attractive place for new talent to apply for a job – an aspect which is so vital in the current jobs market which has more vacancies than people.

Flexibility and choice are attractive to candidates, whether that translates into remote working, having access to the workplace when needed, or operating a core hours model. And as businesses begin listening to employees and responding appropriately to their preferences, it will become easier for them to remain attractive to external talent.

A good way to know if changes within an organisation are welcome is by providing opportunities for staff to give feedback. This is an essential step when looking to retain employees and helps when attracting new talent – if you don’t know what their concerns are, you can’t take the right steps to address them.

Additionally, when team members do leave, conducting thorough exit interviews to find out why will provide valuable information which employers can use to help retain other employees and attract new ones.

Nevertheless, as an employer, whatever hybrid working model you adopt, there is one rule businesses ought to abide by in the year ahead: you must make sure it takes into account the productivity and wellbeing of your workforce, not just for employee retention, but to gain the attention of new talent in a candidate-driven market.

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