After 18 months or more at home, employees in some parts of the world are beginning to make a return to the office. It has not been the ‘great return’ anticipated by some at the beginning of the pandemic. Returning to the office has been more of a trickle.
How many businesses are offering hybrid working?
There are very few statistics on the total number of businesses likely to transition from an in office to hybrid working model globally.
We do know that some international employers including:
- Apple [147,000 employees]
- Microsoft [181,000 employees]
- Twitter [6,600 employees]
- LinkedIn [16,000 employees]
Have announced they will offer hybrid if not fully remote options to their employees. Other organisations like PWC are allowing employees in certain countries to work remotely in the longer term.
We also know HR experts are saying businesses who are not offering flexible working of some kind are likely to lose out on as many as 70% of candidates in the US. It is clear to see flexibility really matters to employees, but what are the benefits of hybrid working to human resources? It turns out there are more than we may have imagined.
What are the HR benefits of offering hybrid working?
1. Improved wellbeing
One of the notable benefits of hybrid working is the removal of the morning and evening commute for part of the week. Often seen as ‘dead time’ sitting in traffic or on public transport, removing the commute allowed families to have breakfast together, get some exercise or enjoy more sleep. A FlexJobs survey of more than 4,000 US employees in 2020 found that 73% said working from home improved their work life balance.
This isn’t always the case though, an international study by SAP, Qualtrics and MindShare of employees located in Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand and Singapore found 40% of employees believed their mental health had declined while they were working from home. A separate survey by Twingate said remote working was preventing employees from having a clear division between work and life as the lines between the two blurred.
Employees experience work/life balance while working remotely is mixed, this is where HR input is critical. It is likely to be impacted by industry and organisational culture. Therefore, it is important for HR leaders to understand how employees in your business are experiencing hybrid working and help them find the right balance.
2. Reduced absenteeism
One of the core goals of mandating employees to work from home was to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. This had the knock-on effect of reducing the spread of colds or flu in general as employees were not interacting with each other.
Despite the pandemic some countries, like the UK, saw significant reduction in sickness absences which were at a 15 year low in 2020. This is thought to be linked to working from home, shielding and furlough schemes reducing the levels of illness circulating in the community.
Although there is not a lot of research on the impact of hybrid working, having the option to work from home while nursing a cold or similar illness that could spread in an office environment should help to reduce absence due to physical illness.
3. Increased productivity
If there is one thing that the pandemic finally put to rest, it was the misconception that employees are less productive working from home. HR leaders discovered that employees were more adaptable than anticipated.
Research by Accenture supports this with 40% of employees feeling as productive working from home as they do in the office or doing a combination of both. When it comes to choosing an overwhelming 83% preferred a hybrid working model where they could spend 25% of the time in the office. As hybrid working enables employees to have the best of both worlds the feeling amongst HR experts is that productivity should be positively impacted as a result.
4. Employee retention
5. Talent acquisition
6. Diversity and inclusion
Hybrid working can be a benefit to your diversity and inclusion strategy too. If clearly communicated and pursued by all employees, flexible working should make it easier for a broader spectrum of society to join your workforce.
People with caring duties, disabilities or other responsibilities that make full time office attendance challenging can work with HR to find a schedule that works for you both. However, it is important to remember for true diversity and inclusion, it must be possible for those who are not able to work from home to have the option to work from the office on a full-time basis.
For more information visit the Allianz Partner’s Global Working From Home Survey