Flexible Working vs. Hybrid Working – What are the Implications for Your Contact Centre?
Flexible working and hybrid working are terms that are often used interchangeably, despite being vastly different arrangements. It is always important to be clear and concise in exactly what you are offering staff as miscommunication often leads to some very tricky situations.
Since the pandemic began, workers around the globe have become accustomed to getting their work done from the comfort of their own homes. The employment market has thoroughly transformed, and as many staff have established a newfound love for working from home, the focus is ever shifting towards a new, flexible way of working.
To the astonishment of many, working from home has proven to be an astounding success. Many companies have embraced this radical change and are in the process of transitioning to hybrid working. This is not to be confused with flexible working however, and there seems to be an ongoing debate over the difference between the two.
What is Flexible Working?
While many people tend to confuse flexible working with hybrid working, the two are actually rather different. In a recent poll that we ran on LinkedIn, we found that the number of people using the term flexible working to describe what should be referred to as hybrid working was overwhelming.
Flexible working is actually an arrangement predominantly based on working hours, rather than location. To official definition on the Gov.uk website describes flexible working as “a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example having flexible start and finish times”.
This term has historically had a degree of flexibility, and flexible working has also been used to describe unique working arrangements for things such as accessibility needs or other special circumstances. It’s no surprise, then, that this has given rise to confusion with the growing popularity of hybrid working.
How Does a Flexible Working Company Operate?
A flexible working company offers employees the opportunity to design their own working schedules to achieve a happier workforce that produces quality results. Studies have found that companies that accommodate the needs of their employees in this way have experienced increased engagement. According to the Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey, 43% of workers correlated flexible working hours with increased productivity.
The comings and goings of staff in a flexible working company creates the need for effective company communications, increased availability of support, as well as extended access to company premises.
What is Hybrid Working?
Hybrid working capitalises on employees’ ability to perform their role remotely by allowing a combination of at-home and on-site work. Allowing staff to work remotely on occasion gives greater flexibility, which has proven to be increasingly popular with workers since the pandemic. In fact, a recent study by Microsoft has shown that 41% of employees are considering leaving current employment to work remotely this year.
Simultaneously, hybrid working encourages working from the office on certain days, allowing for important meetings or collaborative work to continue to take place. Working from the office on occasion ensures that staff continue to align themselves with company values, and that targets remain firmly within focus.
Some companies have imposed a certain number of specific mandated office working days per week, while the needs of other businesses allow for much more relaxed regulations – with some only asking staff to come into the office once or twice a month.
Despite many preconceptions, statistics from the ONS show that hybrid work not only leads to happier staff, but also to increased productivity, with the majority of staff reporting fewer distractions, improved wellbeing and speedier turnarounds while working from home.
How Does a Hybrid Working Company Operate?
A hybrid working arrangement creates an environment where on any given day, the number of people coming and going can vary dramatically. Naturally, this can come with challenges in terms of organisation and capacity.
In an attempt to tackle the transition, many companies have begun to employ a hot-desk system whereby workspaces are reserved by employees to be used when they attend the office.
While a hybrid working system certainly equates to reduced office space requirements, it is important to maintain adequate capacity for the needs of your office workers. Video conferencing facilities also become a requirement given the nature of hybrid working.
How to Excel at Managing Hybrid Teams
Managing a hybrid workforce can be incredibly challenging without an effective strategy in place. To get the most out of employees in the workplace can require a vastly different management style compared to organising those at home.
Managers are responsible for eight key areas including their Duty of Care, compliance for Hybrid Working and how to look after employee well-being.
We specialise in arming you with the knowledge and tools you need to get the most out of your hybrid workers. ‘Managing Hybrid Teams’ is an expertly crafted training programme packed with information and guidance on exactly how you can tailor your business to thrive (and manage risk) in this rapidly evolving job market.
Contact us today to find out more about how our training programme can help your company cultivate a highly effective hybrid working environment.
Natalie Calvert is Founder of CX High Performance.
Natalie’s expertise and proven track record extends across 100+ customer service and sales organisations reaching over 200,000 employees across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the USA.
Natalie is a leading independent CX+EX authority and is the trusted ‘go-to person’ with UK and international clients.
For additional information on CX High Performance view their Company Profile