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Hybrid Working: Is the Future of the Workplace Flexible?

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From increased homeworking and a growing reliance on technology, the Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the journey towards the future of the workplace. However, a recent study by Aviva notes that the Covid-19 pandemic has also been a critical period of reflection for employees.

According to the study, 47% of employees now claim to be less career focussed and 69% say that flexible working will play a more important role when making career choices. As a result, many employers are now considering what their permanent way of working will look like, with many opting for a ‘hybrid’ approach, combining office working and homeworking.

Who does hybrid working work for?

The study conducted by Aviva confirms that preferences for designing hybrid working patterns vary significantly depending on several factors including age, gender and personality.

The study reported that women were significantly more likely to report that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on their work-life balance (24% vs. 16% of men). This is likely to be due to the fact that women, who often have primary care roles for their children or parents, have been finding it more difficult to maintain a work-life balance when working from home. It is therefore unsurprising that more than two in three women (67%) feel complete flexibility around their working hours would make them more productive. Introducing flexible working hours may therefore enable women to improve their work-life balance and avoid work related burnout.

Aviva’s findings also highlighted a significant difference between the preferences of different generations in the workplace following the Covid-19 pandemic. The study notes that adults in Generation X (aged 40-54) are almost twice as likely to prefer full-time home working as those in Generation Z (aged 18-24). This is likely due to the fact that the younger generation prioritise the social aspect of being in the office and are also more likely to require close supervision and training. By comparison, older generations are likely to be more experienced in their roles and are therefore more comfortable working from home.

However, the study also notes that the younger generations, including Generation Z and Generation Y (aged 25 – 39) are eager to push for hybrid working patterns going forward. This is likely due to the fact that the younger generations prioritise mental health and work-life balance and hybrid working patterns allow them to ensure that their work fits in with the rest of their life.

How to implement hybrid working

Here are the key factors you need to consider when implementing a hybrid working model:

1.      Create clear policies and procedures for hybrid working.

2.      Consider the legal and contractual implications of hybrid working.

3.      Prioritise effective communication with employees to avoid poor information flow and the exclusion of team members who are not in the office.

4.      Ensure that employees have the technology to enable them to work from home effectively.

5.      Provide training to employees on caring for their wellbeing whilst working in a hybrid way to prevent isolation and work related burnout.

If you would like more information on this or a related topic, please contact our Employment & HR team.

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Darwin Gray is a commercial law firm based in Cardiff. We are proud of our reputation for using a practical and solution-focused approach when helping our clients.

We have a strong team ethic, putting approachability, consistency and quality at the heart of everything we do. Your business will always be at the forefront of our minds, whilst ensuring you also receive excellent value for money.

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