Work is something we do, not somewhere we go

hybrid working

The pandemic has taught us that work is something we do rather than somewhere we go. Employees today appreciate the ability to have more control and flexibility over how, when and where they work. Hybrid work is the future. For many, it has benefits not only in terms of their productivity but also their mental wellbeing – both of which benefit employers too, by creating a more motivated team. In fact, 61% of Australians believe they’re at their most productive when working hybrid.

The adoption of technology to conduct business on a remote basis has boomed during the pandemic. Technology, which was once the privilege of only big or wealthy companies, is allowing small and micro businesses to be virtually run from anywhere connected to the internet. In decoupling the workplace from the actual physical location and promoting numerous personal and professional benefits, hybrid work is reshaping the game for small businesses.

A fundamental shift to hybrid work?

Prior to lockdowns, almost one in three small businesses offered remote working opportunities. However, the pandemic saw millions of business owners transition to hybrid and remote work overnight. As it stands, with cases surging in Australia, there is no return to ‘normal’ in 2022 and employees are beginning to prioritise and demand the many benefits of hybrid work permanently.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid work. It’s about what’s best for a business, it’s their employees and their customers. An “at-will” model provides employees with the flexibility to come to the office at their convenience; a “split-week” is slightly more structured and allows employees to work, for example, two days in the office and three at home; a “shift work” model involves teams or departments coordinating the office visits to collaborate, and a “week-by-week” model allows employees to spend one week at home and one in the office. Working from home can pose challenges that must be overcome.

Overcoming the limitations of remote work

Whether your business operates using a hybrid or remote model, there are still challenges to address. With our increased reliance on technology, employees must be provided with the correct tools to work productively. Without these tools, employees will struggle to collaborate, access information and meet outcomes promptly. Ultimately, this impacts your business and its customers. Besides virtual coffee catch-ups, in-person engagement is interrupted and there is a limitation of team-building opportunities, particularly with new hires. Lack of human interaction can impact mental health and motivation. This is where a flexible approach to hybrid work, and allowing employees to come into the office or place of work, is important. Culture and connectivity are as important as technology in helping your business successfully adopt a hybrid work model.

Effective hybrid model equals increased job satisfaction

Because employees have the freedom and flexibility to choose their own work schedule, it often leads to increased productivity. Ensuring employees are happy and supported – not just productive – will also reduce turnover, one way to increase employee satisfaction. In 2022, as Aussies continue to benefit from the hybrid model, businesses considering a fully in-office model can create employee dissatisfaction and narrow talent pools.

Ultimately, the core of creating an effective hybrid model is cloud technology. Zoho One, for example, allows teams to work as collaboratively as if they were in the office through one seamless operating system.

Hybrid work unlocks more than just time and money for businesses. The pandemic has taught us that the hybrid model strikes an attractive balance between flexible remote work and collaborative in-office work. The result for small businesses is lower operational costs, higher employee job satisfaction and increased productivity.