Make hybrid working work for your business, employees and customers in 2024

How might hybrid working evolve in 2024? We consider how you can devise an approach to best suit your business, employees and customers.
· 17 January 2024 · 4 minute read

Managing the transition to a hybrid working model

The shift to remote working has been one of the most significant transformations in the way we work in recent history. In many cases businesses had to adopt new practices without the time to reflect and develop a clear position or plan. And the long-term impacts of that transition are still being understood and worked through.

Many organisations – big and small - are still exploring what this transformation means for them and their people in the future. Here we explore how hybrid working practices may evolve in 2024, and what businesses can do to create long-term approaches for their working policies and practices.


People’s appetite for flexible working arrangements will remain in 2024

The scale and pace at which remote working was adopted was, in large part, forced upon many organisations. Although others had remote working practices in place long before then.

Even though the driving force for mass scale remote working – the Covid19 pandemic – is over, evidence suggests employees now see flexible ways of working as an attractive and realistic benefit many employers should offer. In fact, it’s worth somewhere like a 7% or 8% pay increase to many people, according to Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom who has studied hybrid work for many years.

In a tight labour market, flexible ways of working can be an alluring part of a job package. Offering flexibility can open up the applicant pool, helping you attract more applications for open role. The share of Australian job postings mentioning ‘work from home’ or similar phrases is at a record high, and ‘work from home’ is the top search term on career site Seek.

But it’s not just recruitment benefits that prompt businesses to offer flexible working. Nicholas Bloom says the business impact of hybrid work includes consistent productivity advantages. “The central estimate of over a number of studies is an increase of 3%-4% productivity,” thanks to a reduction in commute time and the ability to focus on ‘deep work’.


But we need to balance flexibility and team connections

While many businesses and employees benefit from greater flexibility, some may continue to have concerns. One is the uncertainty about the long-term effects of remote working on organisational culture and innovation. Some business activities can be better in person. Brainstorms, team-building or training for example can be done virtually, yet for many people the experience is not the same.


The move towards organised hybrid

If flexible working is here to stay, how can businesses balance the need to foster in-person teamwork?

There are many different models of hybrid working. Looking ahead, organisations are more likely to adopt more of an ‘organised’ hybrid approach.

An organised hybrid model splits the work week between remote days and office-based days. The difference between organised hybrid and true flexible working is that office days are set for the team or business as a whole. These are allocated days when people agree to be in the workplace together, which helps ensure in-person contact.


How to make organised hybrid work for you in 2024

Each business is unique and so each business’ approach to hybrid work should also be unique. However, there are multiple factors to consider when developing a strategy for a new way of working.

Here are three key factors to consider when deciding where to go next with your hybrid or remote working practices.

1. Put your values and principles at the centre

Business values are the guiding light of decision making. This is true when evaluating new ways of working.

Consider the values you want to promote in your culture. One business may prioritise teamwork and a ‘hustling’ attitude, while another may lean toward individual responsibility and autonomy. It’s about what’s right for your business and the outcomes you want to achieve.

It’s worth looking at the experience of other business to see what works for them and what you can learn. The past few years have been filled with experiments in remote working. But consider what you don’t want too, as ultimately the right model for your business will be unique to you and your people.

2. Identify the problems you’re trying to solve

If you’re looking to change the status quo, it’s important to be clear on why - how could your people or your customers benefit from a different approach?

Use data and insights from your team to guide your exploration and help identify priorities.

A simple place to start could be a survey your team to understand -

  • who would like the option to work remotely or from a central office.
  • if people have a preference of how many or which days they’d prefer to work remotely or in the office.
  • what are the top challenges people experience when working remotely.
  • what are the top concerns managers have for their people working remotely.

You can use input from your team to help identify things that aren’t working well. Regular conversations with employees, or pulse-check surveys for larger workforces, help to keep the data flowing.

It’s also worth considering these problems in terms of the different roles in your business. For example, a leader’s job is very different from a team member who is not leading people. While leaders might want to communicate and create bonds with their team, employees may want the freedom to do work.

3. Consider the people you employ, the jobs you do, and the customers you serve

Once you’ve identified the problems you’re trying to solve, you need to consider the context. The right model for your business will depend on a mix of considerations related to your people, the actual work to be done and your customers. Your ways of working need to support each of these effectively.

For example, if a large part of your workforce is made up of people who are new to the job, or work in general, they may require more time together in person.

In some businesses, working location is not a choice. A real estate business, for example, has to staff open houses. But if you have a customer service team dealing with online enquiries, does the location influence the quality of their work?


Enabling hybrid working models

There are lots of opinions about the pros and cons of remote working and hybrid working models. Key enablers such as communication, office design, technology, and data can be key to making sure the model you choose is effective.

Have open conversations

Transparency is important in making hybrid working a success. Have open conversations about expectations for staff and agree on what are the acceptable norms within your business. Be clear about how you measure performance and communicate that to the teams. It’s also important to review what you’re doing and gather feedback to help refine or adjust the process.

Support teams and managers

Whatever model you choose, it’s important to provide support for teams and managers to make it work.  Training and regular check-ins may be appropriate, particularly to help managers lead dispersed teams.

Consider if changes to your work environment could help

Once you have a plan in mind, you may want to consider the role your physical workspace should play. You might want to change it to better support your work practices.

For example, if you decide it’s optimal for your team to work on site in person together at particular times. And that the main reason for this is to foster creativity and team spirit. Then you might want to create more spaces that can enable strong collaboration or social dynamics.

Make sure you put the right technology solutions in place

A wide range of technology solutions and tools are available for working remotely. The right choice of devices, network connectivity and business software can help you and your team stay connected and work effectively from multiple locations.

Productivity software, collaboration solutions, and secure access to your network are some of the tools your teams may need. Ensuring you have IT support services in place can also help you manage technology challenges of working remotely should they arise.

Keep using data to stay on track

To keep track of how things are going, keep leveraging data to measure key outcomes and identify what’s working and what could still be improved. This might come from conversations with staff, employee surveys, or your analysis of business data and performance metrics. A combination of both can help you make informed decisions that are right for your business.


An intentional approach to hybrid working can offer best of both worlds

Many businesses will settle into new routines and ways of working in 2024, setting themselves up for the long-term.

With a clear understanding of the needs of your business, employees, and customers you can adopt an intentional model that fits your needs. A collective, methodical, and thoughtful approach can help you make hybrid work a success, and importantly in a way that's right for your business.

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