How can companies create a successful hybrid working model?

Whether you like or dislike hybrid working, for many businesses in the UK, it’s here to stay. So, with that in mind, we decided to investigate how companies can create a successful hybrid working model.

The best and worst UK cities for hybrid working

Research from Business Energy Provider Gazprom Energy ranked the best and worst UK cities for hybrid working.

Although their research doesn’t cover all the aspects that are likely to create a ‘successful’ hybrid working model, the criteria they used when determining rankings can still be of use to businesses.

Gazprom Energy ranked each major UK city on an index made up of six factors that contribute to successful hybrid working lifestyles: cost of living, wellbeing (avg. life satisfaction, happiness, and anxiety rating), commuting time (mins), average salary (£), average Internet Speed (mbps), and coffee shops per capita.

By assigning a points-based criteria, an overall Hybrid Working Score out of 100 was calculated for each city to produce a full ranking from best to worst.

When it came to the overall best city for hybrid working, York came out on top. Helped along by a moderate cost of living, a respectable standard of wellbeing and a lower average commute, the cathedral city scored an overall hybrid working score of 64, one point higher than second-place Chester.

As for the city where its inhabitants are the happiest, Exeter took the top spot for overall wellbeing, closely followed by St. Albans. Alongside Hull, St. Albans also took joint first when it came to the highest average internet speeds (138 mbps), with a speedy Internet connection most definitely being a big plus while working from home.

However, with a hybrid working score of just 35, London ranked the UK’s worst city for hybrid working, despite employers in the capital being among the first to make the switch. Although its average salary was far higher than other cities in the top 10, its longer average commute (66 minutes) and higher cost of living brought its hybrid working score way down.

According to the report’s findings, 36% of employees would consider moving to a different area of the country for the ability to work from home too.

So, in summary, quick internet speeds, good quality of life, short commutes and lower cost of living are key factors.

The downside for business owners is that many of the key factors are not directly under their control, although raising wages might help improve quality of life and lower living costs.

Transitioning completely to working from home could also eliminate commuting times, although this might lower quality of life in some cases and will also mean the working model is no longer a hybrid one. In such cases, it might be worth speaking to employees to determine what would work best for them.

Is working from home the best option for productivity?

Many CEOs are worried that hybrid working will impact productivity and hurt career progression, but according to a survey of 1,000 UK employees from Fellowes Brands, only 32% of people say working from home is more productive, compared to 36% who say they are more productive in the office and 30% who say a hybrid arrangement makes them productive.

This highlights that the right working arrangement can be a key factor for productivity, and companies could look to maximise productivity by working with their employees to identify an arrangement that works best for the each member of staff, perhaps with some members of staff working from home entirely, others working strictly from the office and some with a mix of the two.

That, in itself, could be a hybrid working model.

The survey also revealed a range of other key findings that employers might take it to consideration to create a satisfied and more productive workforce:

  • Whether working from home or the office, nine in ten employees (89%) rate satisfaction in their workspace as important, with a third (32%) saying they are up to 50% more productive when they are satisfied with their workspace.
  • 81% say having a good ergonomic environment, including a suitable desk, chair, and monitor at eye level is important to their productivity.
  • 79% say having access to the equipment they need, such as an extra monitor to view large documents, is important to their productivity.
  • 80% say it is important to their productivity that their employer invests in ergonomics.
  • 43% find well-ventilated and filtered air satisfying in their workspace
  • 77% say it is important for an employer to invest in clean, healthy air (e.g., using air purifiers) to facilitate productivity in their workspace.
  • 33% say they find breathing cleaner, healthier air satisfying at work.
  • 74% say it is important that an employer invests in equipment to shred sensitive documents.
  • 81% say having a clean, healthy workspace is important to their productivity.
  • 77% say it is important that an employer invests in effective storage and organisation solutions they need to be productive at the office.
  • 73% say it is important that an employer invests in equipment to produce high quality presentations and documents, including laminators and binders, they need to be productive at the office.

“Throughout my career working with some of the world’s biggest companies, one thing I’ve come to notice is that the most productive people all seem to have one commonality: satisfaction, says Productivity Expert Martin Geiger.

“To successfully transition to this exciting hybrid working future, employers must implement practical strategies that allow their employees to be satisfied with the setup within the corporate office, as well as within their home working environment.

“Employees who are well equipped and thus satisfied with their working conditions in both locations will lead to outcomes of higher productivity.”

Just how flexible should a hybrid working model be?

Considering that employee satisfaction appears to have a big impact on productivity, begs the question of just how flexible should hybrid working models be?

One example that might help answer this question is energy retailer Love Energy Savings, a Bolton-based company that has allowed their staff to set their own working hours, an initiative which came after they had also been allowed to work from any location of their choosing.

When commenting on the revolutionary working model, Love Energy Savings CEO, Phil Foster, said: “For more and more people, the traditional ways of working just don’t fit in with how we live our lives today.

“The rigid pattern of nine to five, Monday to Friday is no longer fit for purpose.

“That’s why we’re delighted to implement our Flexible-Flexible Policy. Not only does it allow our colleagues to work from anywhere in the UK, they can also choose the hours that suit them and their families.”

“Working a nine to five around when you have childcare commitments can prove a particular challenge.

“Now parents can easily schedule their hours around school drop-off and pick-up. It also gives colleagues the chance to visit the gym during the day and catch up with life admin.

“Allowing staff to work from anywhere in the UK has already proved a huge hit. We’ve got colleagues in Glasgow, Heathrow, Ipswich and the Lake District now who tell us how their quality of life has shot up as a result.”

A happy worker is a productive worker is one of the oldest known quotes in the world, and although a working model like this might not be suitable for every business, collaborating with staff to create a working model that better suits their needs will almost certainly improve satisfaction levels.

Hybrid working has the potential to increase staff numbers and working hours

Many small businesses say home and hybrid working has more benefits than a return to the workplace, and one of the other important considerations for business owners is the opportunity for increasing staff numbers and working hours that hybrid working presents.

According to a study by Virgin Media O2 Business and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr), an increase in hybrid working could bring 3.8 million people previously unable to work into the workforce, including 1.5 million disabled people, 500,000 carers, and 1.2 million parents.

Nearly half of the UK’s 8.6 million part-time employees would increase their working time if their employer would let them work remotely, leading to 1.27 billion more hours worked annually. And hybrid working could boost provide an income boost to part-time workers of up to £3,600 annually, while part-time carers could see an even greater increase of up to £4,800 annually.

When commenting on the findings, Jo Bertram, Managing Director, Business and Wholesale at Virgin Media O2, said: “Covid-19 means hybrid working is no longer a nice to have – it’s become an expected and essential part of modern work which boosts the business bottom line while creating opportunities for nearly four million people currently locked out of jobs.

“By unlocking a deeper pool of talent and creating opportunities for more people, hybrid working offers businesses and society the opportunity to bounce back stronger.

“Organisations that embrace it will sprint ahead by attracting the best people, boosting productivity and creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”