The past year has completely changed the way we all live and work.

Thanks to the pandemic, working from home has become the new norm and essential for business continuity. Many have had little choice but to accept this new way of working and simply ‘get on with it’.

But now that we are heading out of lockdown, are the expectations of employees shifting?

There is also still no definitive answer on when the government will drop the ‘work from home where possible’ advice. Naturally, this leaves employers in a tricky situation.

Do they continue taking a remote-only stance or encourage workers back into the office? Or is the solution a more hybrid approach, where employees are given more choice over their place of work?

Different types of hybrid working

Hybrid working is a location-flexible arrangement that enables staff members to combine on-site and off-site work as they and their employers see fit. With the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, more and more companies are starting to incorporate various hybrid arrangements — granting employees increased flexibility.

Although many have embraced home working, for others, the novelty quickly wore off. Equally, some will be dreading the thought of returning to the office five days a week. People like to work in different ways; a hybrid model takes this into account, giving staff greater control over their environment.

There are different types of hybrid work arrangements, some of which offer more freedom than others.

1. Shift work

In this model, employees work in shifts — alternating between working from home for part of the day and on-site for the remainder or vice versa. This model can be difficult to work with because many people do not like shift work; it is geared more towards industries where staff are out ‘in the field’ and used to working in shifts. However, in a typical 9–5 office setting, where workers are more likely to commute longer distances, this model is not particularly practical.

2. Split-week

This model is becoming increasingly popular amongst employers. It splits the week between working in the office two or three days and working from home two or three days. Companies using this model generally split up the week between different departments, allowing managers to stay in touch with their teams and enabling regular face-to-face group meetings. From an employer’s perspective, this model is perhaps the most practical yet still offers employees a reasonable degree of flexibility.

3. Week-by-week

Rather than splitting the week, employees can also alternate between working from home and working from the office on a weekly basis. The week-by-week model is typically used in companies with large teams; for example, the accounts department might be working on-site one week, and the following week will be reserved for the marketing division. This ensures teams can use office space together at the same time and meet in person on a semi-regular basis. Again, this model is practical from an employer perspective. However, it may not offer employees as much flexibility as they crave.

4. At-will

With this model, employees can choose the arrangement that works best for them on any given day. An at-will model is ideal for those who require a quiet place to work for the day or want to come into the office when they need to meet someone. However, although this model provides employees with the most flexibility, it can create some logistical challenges for employers.

Many companies have downsized their office space(s) during the pandemic to cut down on overhead costs, meaning there will not be space for all staff members at the same time. The at-will hybrid model is ideal in this situation, but it does require having a fair system in place to ensure everyone can use the office when needed. For example, several companies have set up a booking process for office spaces.

Attracting and retaining top talent

Now that employees know that remote working can be done effectively and have tasted the freedom afforded by it, many will expect more flexible working options from employers.

So, if companies want to attract the best talent, they need to build their workplace strategy around this desire for a truly versatile, hybrid way of working. A hybrid work culture — where staff are given the power to work flexibly depending on the type of work required and their individual circumstances — will empower employees and improve job satisfaction. For employers, this translates into two key benefits: a boost in productivity and better staff retention.

Plus, many companies have already invested a lot of time and money in getting staff set up to work from home. Why put all that effort to waste?

Not only will hybrid work models allow businesses to remain agile and stay ahead of the curve, but they will also enable them to build a motivated and productive workforce made up of high-quality talent — and, more importantly, retain that workforce.

Need help transitioning to a more hybrid way of working (and recruiting)? Our recruitment consultants can advise you on the best approach and help you shape your hybrid hiring strategy — from putting out the first job advert right through to onboarding. Contact our recruitment specialists today to see how we can help.