The extent to which employers allow or encourage hybrid working is likely to be a key workplace issue for some time to come. Employers appear to be having some success in persuading people to return to the office for at least part of the week, judging by the occupancy of train station car parks in Britain's commuter towns. Still, the holdout continues. Last month, it was reported that staff in some Office for National Statistics offices were refusing to comply with instructions to spend two days a week in the office. And many employees remain keen on flexible working arrangements and are likely considering changing jobs instead.

This does not mean that employers who want to retain employees should bow to pressure and allow employees to play their roles as they see fit. Earlier this year, the Chartered Institute of Human Resource Development, which promotes best practice for HR professionals in the UK, published guidance on how to introduce flexible or hybrid working. Here are key steps to plan for successful hybrid work:

Agree on the overall strategic position on hybrid (and broader flexibility) organizing and policy development and support guidance that reflects the strategy.

A definition of hybrid working that takes into account specific organizational contexts. This may involve several different forms of hybrid working, even within one organization, depending on the requirements of the role.

Providing training and continuing development activities for human resource managers to support successful hybrid management and leadership.

Take effective approaches to potential challenges such as technology, employee benefits, inclusion, and facilities.

Interestingly, given that the pandemic has also accelerated the digitization of business, one of the issues often cited as a hurdle to changing working practices for both individuals and employers is technology, i.e. lack of appropriate equipment and software. That is to say.

This situation is highlighted in a report released this week by office equipment manufacturer Ricoh. According to the survey, only 30% of European employees say they have all the technology they need to collaborate seamlessly with colleagues. Additionally, nearly a quarter of business decision makers questioned admitted that their company's collaborative technology does not meet industry standards.

Now, it's possible that not providing access to tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, or even video conferencing equipment, is just a cynical attempt to discourage people who want to work in a different way. there is. However, for all the talk about teamwork and collaboration, there is likely a lack of understanding of how modern work is actually done. These days, even the most junior staff members need to be able to communicate electronically with others at all times, even when they are in the same building. If employers do not recognize this and make the necessary investments, they risk underperforming, which is also a factor that often leads to staff turnover.

At the same time, there is also the recognition that while it is of course possible to perform many elements of the job and remain productive while working remotely, certain aspects, particularly those related to creativity, seem to be challenged. It's increasing. However, given that employees' enthusiasm for remote and hybrid working is unlikely to wane, as remote and hybrid working offers more opportunities to balance work and other aspects of life, employers should We can't simply throw up our hands and say, as some companies have done, that: It means going back to the old ways.

In fact, some believe the answer lies in adopting more technology. Sondre Kvam is the co-founder of Naer, a Norwegian startup that has developed a “mixed reality” workplace app to aid brainstorming. In an interview earlier this year, he said immersive technology allowed participants to focus on collaboration without “everything else competing for their attention.” He acknowledged that “people need to meet from time to time,” and that creating a 3D environment could make it feel like the parties involved were meeting in the real world, rather than just having a conversation via a computer. He added that it is sexual.

Technology in areas such as artificial intelligence is developing rapidly, so we'll soon find out if he's right. In the meantime, companies will likely need to invest in better equipment and make their offices a place people want to spend time in. Maintaining a sense of culture and connection will be difficult. Both are great motivators for employees. People who have less of a physical presence than is generally accepted.

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