Flexible working post Covid-19: defining hybrid

There is no single approach to hybrid working.  As I have already talked about on an earlier blog post, each organisation will need to decide where it stands on the flexibility spectrum.  But it will need to go even further than that. Unless your workforce is homogenous and fairly small, you are going to need a category type approach that reflect different forms of hybrid working.

For example…..

In most organisations there will be some employees that can’t have hybrid working at all, and potentially many other forms of flexible working aren’t available to them either.  These are the roles that need to be undertaken in a specific location at a specific time. 

There will then be roles where there is room for some hybrid.  A significant amount of the work needs to be undertaken in a particular location (in non-pandemic, work from home if you can times).  Maybe employees can work from home on an occasional or ad hoc basis, but probably no more than once a week.

There will be roles where people can remotely without any need for pre planning or scheduling, and that lend themselves to total autonomy.  Conversely, there will be roles where this just won’t work for operational reasons, and instead will require structure or rotas about who is in and who is not.

Some roles will lend themselves to a 50/50 spit.  Others where the employee can work the vast majority of their time remotely and only come into the office one day a week or even less. Maybe there are even roles where a need to come into the workplace differs across the month or year. 

Finally, there will be roles that can be 100% remote and employees within them can truly work from anywhere.

If you want an example of a company who have already figured out their flexible working categories (which they call personas) check Zurich’s approach here.

When thinking about what you need:

  • Start by defining your broad hybrid categories.  What type of roles do you have? When do you need people in the workplace?  When and how do your people do their work?
  • Then figure out what specific roles at your organisation fit into those categories.  Include a broad range of examples to help people make sense of it and see how hybrid might work for them. 
  • Talk to your people to test your definitions and examples.

And then…. Challenge bias. 

Before the pandemic we had a whole load of assumptions and beliefs about homeworking, and this included (sometimes arbitrary) lists of roles that we thought could not possibly be done from home.  We need to make sure we don’t take this old thinking into a new future.  It would be all too easy to dismiss working from home as ‘something that happened during Covid’ and put employees into categories that are unnecessarily restrictive. 

The learnings from the last year are still emerging.  Hybrid (at scale) is also going to be about learning as we go.  Whatever categories you define may need to evolve, and the roles within them may flex over time too.

After categories comes a need for policies and principles….. I’ll blog about that subject very soon.

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