The industrial revolution forced us out of our houses and to a place of work if nothing else but to use the equipment which was sited in one place. Now with advances in technology we can work from home again with ease. The events of the past two years have accelerated this move back to working from home. By embracing Cloud technology people can work successfully from home. People want to work from home at least partly yet employers still need collaboration in the office. 

Could Hybrid working be the answer? And if so, will this be beneficial to the productivity of the team?

Employees positively embrace working from home. They save time and money on travel and feel comfortable working at home in their own environment free from distractions. A recent study found that 55% of British employers expect their employees to be working from home at least for part of the week. There has been some reluctance from employers as they worry they will not be able to track the progress of their team when working from home.

This problem can be overcome by embracing software such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, SharePoint, and OneDrive.  it’s never been easier to communicate with team members who may not be in the office. Most candidates are happy to accept close monitoring whilst working from home as the guidance and support from their employer reduces the chance of distraction.

Does working from home decrease productivity?

In a recent study, 93% of participants said they found the hybrid work model to be more productive. 99% stated they believed hybrid working was more beneficial to their overall wellbeing whether that be professional, personal or both.

However, this increase in productivity would obviously depend on the individual’s home environment. The definition of working from home invites very blurred requirements of working. To many people this phrase simply means freedom. Freedom to wear what you want and freedom to spend more time with the family. To some employers, this can instantly translate to a less productive team. 

However, we can look at this from another perspective, to have a healthier team who are working smarter in different environments allows for an increase in self-discipline, self-control, and time management. It’s just whether this is a risk you are willing to take with your team.

Factors that could decrease productivity

One sure thing that is thought to decrease productivity is working from your bed.

A recent study found that 80% of young people admit to working from their beds. This can massively affect their concentration, productivity and feeling of isolation from the working environment.  As employers we need to ensure that our staff feel supported through these new working challenges. Although, for some hybrid working is a huge positive in their life, for others it can dramatically affect their physical and mental health. The average worker commutes just 16 steps from their bed to their workstation, surely reducing their physical activity throughout the day.

On an average remote work day one in three workers sit in their chair all day and at least 24% don’t leave the house. This can have detrimental effects on the physical and mental health of your staff leaving them feeling unmotivated and isolated from the world. Therefore, the hybrid work model gives employees the best of both words as well as the opportunity to choose what works best for them specifically. 

What is the hybrid work model?

The hybrid work model is creating the perfect balance between remote and onsite working for all staff within the company. Whilst this may be favoured by your staff, you as a business owner should ensure the productivity of work continues to strive with this new working environment being introduced. 

So, how can we encourage  productivity in our team whilst ensuring their wellbeing in the workplace?

1. Encourage your staff to create separate spaces for work and home.

Unless you decide to get out of the house and work from a coffee shop or co-working space it can be very difficult to separate work from your regular life at home. So, it’s great to have a dedicated area in your home that you associate with working. Whether this is a home office or desk or even designated times where the kitchen table is in fact the kitchen table and when it’s the working office. Unless your team can maintain these boundaries, it is possible you will see a lack of productivity in their work when they’re  working from home.

2. Equip your team with the necessary tech they need to get the job done (as if they were in the office).

When working in a space that is already assumed to have extra distractions it’s essential that you provide your team with the tools they need to succeed. 

For instance, collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack which provide extensive chat and video conferencing features will allow your team to communicate easily with their colleagues. Moreover, it’s essential to ensure all work devices are updated and of the best condition for your hybrid working employees. Programmes like OneDrive and SharePoint also ensure your team has access to all company files and documents from wherever they may be working. 

3. Schedule daily check-ins

When you’ve got team members working from various locations it’s essential to keep the communication channels open and regular. It’s important that your employees still feel part of the team even if they’re not physically in the office.  So, scheduling a daily check-in whether this is through video chat, phone or message will provide your staff with a sense of inclusion and normalcy thus increasing their commitment and productivity to work.

4. Set mutually agreed expectations

More often than not in any work environment miscommunications can easily occur, especially around expectations. This risk is massively increased when we introduce the hybrid working model. So, it’s essential to set mutually agreed and realistic targets and expectations that are understood in advance. This way we can avoid the drama of misunderstandings, miscommunications and disappointment from both employees and managers. Additionally, you can set mutually agreed expectations relating to working from home in general ensuring your employees understand what is acceptable and what isn’t when working remotely. 

5. Create an open, comfortable environment

As previously mentioned, working from home can increase the risk of both physical and mental health issues within employees. Therefore, it’s essential that you create an open environment, both in and out of the office where your staff feel comfortable to approach supervisors and managers regarding these issues. For instance, allowing time off for therapy appointments and encouraging consistent communication within your team will help your employees feel less isolated when at home.. Additionally, encouraging daily exercise  (given the extra time available originally used for commuting) will help reduce physical issues such as aches and pains from the lack of movement when working from home. 

To conclude, if you set your team up with everything they need to succeed including, software, updated devices, and clear, consistent communication there is no reason their productivity would have to decrease when working from home. Additionally, the new hybrid working model ensures a split between remote and onsite working which gives your employees the freedom to decide what works best for them individually and move forward from there. 

Managing staff working from home

Also, it’s important to remember that managing in a remote or hybrid working environment is different to managing people face to face. Consider offering some additional training to line managers around mental health and wellbeing to help them rise to the challenge. Our eLearning course for line managers can be completed from anywhere and only takes 1.5 hours to complete. Encourage line managers to check in with their employees face to face where they can, and to remember to ask how they’re doing when they are working from home.

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