According to a report on hybrid working by Leeds University Business School, employers should avoid a “one size fits all” approach if they want employees to successfully work partly from home and partly from the office.
This is because the availability of dedicated workspaces at home and familiarity with technology means that workers are likely to have very different experiences of hybrid working.
The report found that, of the 759 UK workers surveyed, 72 per cent preferred to work from the office once a week; 33 per cent said that they had no dedicated workspace at home; but only 18 per cent reported that their offices had been adapted specifically to support hybrid working.
Analysis of the data showed that working from home without access to a specific desk or separate room (such as having to use a kitchen table or the sofa) was associated with lower performance, job satisfaction and engagement.
The report concluded that the office remains important for most workers, a finding that the authors welcomed, not least because evidence shows that spending time there is beneficial in terms of greater employee job satisfaction, engagement and concentration. The report found that the most influential pull factors for people were task or role related, such as jobs that required the use of particular equipment or the need to support colleagues, such as training new starters.
The report also addressed tensions that can be caused by organisations implementing hybrid working schemes, such as employees feeling disconnected from colleagues and managers, and offers managers solutions to tackle the main key challenges that can arise.
Other tensions stemming from hybrid working addressed in the report include the development of an “us versus them” mentality among employees and excessive supervision from managers. The researchers recommend that, where possible, employers should implement general principles of hybrid working rather than strict rules which reduce working flexibility, thereby undermining the key benefit for many employees.
The report acknowledges, however, that there is no such thing as a perfect arrangement, meaning that it is important for employers to be clear that whatever system they introduce, trade-offs are bound to be involved.
To read the report in more detail, click here.