A recent survey by recruitment firm Sigmar reported that just over a third of employees intend to return to the office on a full-time basis when COVID-19 restrictions ease.
New research carried out by CIPD Ireland has also found that just over half of businesses plan to allow remote working on a permanent basis.
The statistical evidence indicates that a large majority of the Irish workforce and their employers expect permanent changes to the way we work.
Large cohort favour hybrid model
The Sigmar report found that 44% of workers expect to split their time between the office and homeworking. 92% of those workers expect to spend three or fewer days in the office. The recruitment agency’s conclusion was that the future of work is hybrid.
For small to medium-sized business owners, this shift away from traditional working models poses a wide range of HR challenges. These include managing the productivity of remote teams to complying with working time legislation.
Preparing for hybrid working
A hybrid worker divides their time between the office and working remotely (typically at home). Before an employer implements a hybrid work model, senior leadership teams must examine the feasibility of running the business with a hybrid workforce. The central issue will be making best estimates as to whether it’s possible to maintain productivity with a team of hybrid workers.
On the positive side, after a year of COVID-19 restrictions, many businesses have had an opportunity to trial run remote working. As the coronavirus vaccine rollout progresses and the return to the workplace comes into view, employers will need to examine the long-term viability of allowing certain employees to adopt the hybrid model.
A review of this kind needs to incorporate issues like managing workloads/workflows, employee engagement, and communications. The business will need to undertake a thorough review of policies and employee handbooks to ensure staff have access to all relevant information in relation to their hybrid working model.
Now is as good a time as any to seek employee feedback about their expectations when the restrictions ease. It will be useful to know how many employees would like to continue working from home.
And don’t forget that the research suggests that a third of workers are looking forward to returning to the office full time. The needs of these employees will also need to be considered.
The COVID-19 restrictions have disrupted the way we work. The past year has effectively been an experiment in remote working practices on a massive scale.
For employers, the big remote work experiment presents opportunities, whether that means renting less office space or enjoying an unexpected increase in productivity from remote working.
Hybrid working is also likely to influence recruitment and retention. Staff that enjoy a hybrid model of work will seek out employers that offer hybrid options. Talent searches may also benefit from a wider geographic scope as qualified candidates from more locations would theoretically be considered for recruitment.
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