Five ways to implement a hybrid working culture

Blogs 28 Nov 2022

Hybrid working offers an opportunity for organisations as well as individuals to re-imagine the workplace and work culture to best suit their needs.

This article was first published in First Voice. Written by Dr Shruti Raghuraman, Researcher, The Inclusivity Project

Among the many adaptations we made during the pandemic, one of the most impactful has been home working. For most owners and employees, this was temporary, but for some the advantages of working from home have led to calls for a more permanent change in working patterns. One such route is hybrid working, where people working in businesses – whether there are two people or 250 people – have some type of home-working arrangement alongside time spent in the office.

It offers an opportunity for organisations as well as individuals to re-imagine the workplace and work culture to best suit their needs. For instance, workers gain flexibility with time and location, with opportunities for enhanced work-life balance. Organisations can minimise overheads associated with running office spaces. This has propelled organisations across sectors to explore a transformation in work culture.

Our project has focused on how to implement a ‘co-design approach’ to developing a hybrid work culture, which features the active involvement of all stakeholders who will benefit from it. Transitioning a workforce of a small business to hybrid working could place an additional burden on the business at a time when resources and funds are already significantly stretched due to the pandemic. The outcomes of this project are primarily aimed at supporting small businesses that are seeking to develop a culture of work that is inclusive, fair and responds to the changing priorities of the workforce today.

There are five key stages in the process to implementing an effective hybrid working culture in your business.

1. Survey staff

Scope the organisation’s unique needs and preferences through a survey. It’s a quick and easy way to gather large amounts of data to guide a more in-depth discussion in the next stage. We’ve created a template for a workable survey on our website.

2. Hold in-depth discussions to explore gaps

Use the survey outcomes to facilitate key discussion points for a more focused, in-depth dialogue with a small sub-section of the workforce. This gives the organisation the opportunity to dig deeper into issues that are important from an operational perspective, while the workforce has a chance to elaborate on any concerns, roadblocks or gaps that they may have identified through the initial survey. 

3. Explore potential solutions

Identify potential solutions that align with the purpose of the small business, which are responsive to any changing roles and responsibilities of staff and which offer a fair reallocation of the organisation’s resources. Once complete, a roadmap or blueprint for a hybrid work policy can be created.

4. Co-design solutions

Co-design a draft hybrid blueprint that is flexible, adaptable and amenable to feedback from the workforce through a further round of in-depth discussions. This means that it is explicit, yet not prescriptive. Importantly, the first draft provides insight into what is realistically feasible.

5.Trial a hybrid working policy

Once a hybrid working process or practice is sufficiently refined and developed, it is important to trial it with a small team. Once tried and tested, it can then be refined and rolled out through the organisation. It is important to note that a hybrid work policy is not a static document, but a live and constantly evolving process or practice.

Culture change is a slow process; it is a marathon, not a sprint. It will also require adjustments over time. It is important to set these expectations at the start of the process. Periodic review and feedback from the workforce not only ensure transparency and consultation, but can also democratise the process and increase accountability and participation from the workforce.

Above all, any development of hybrid working must be genuine and transparent, and not just a managerial ‘tick-box’ exercise. It must have real impact on the wellbeing of the workforce.

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