The past two years have brought about a drastic shift in working practices and working culture.
Often referred to as ‘the future of work’, the rise in companies embracing remote work or hybrid workplaces, after initially being required to implement remote working practices to comply with government restrictions, is seen as a positive step forward in modernising the workplace.
This added urgency to implement cloud-based technologies, and digitise many areas of the business has had many benefits for the businesses who have done it right. Not only have they enabled business continuity in a time of great disruption, but also improved productivity in many areas. There has been a growing acceptance and appreciation for the benefits of remote and flexible work arrangements, which is shown in the increasing prevalence of hybrid workplaces as the world starts to open up again.
What is a hybrid workplace?
A hybrid workplace refers to having a flexible team structure based on some employees working from an office environment, while others work remotely.
The added flexibility for employees to choose how and where they work has shifted the way teams work together, as well as how employees are recruited, onboarded, and managed. For every organisation, a hybrid workplace will look slightly different, however it is based on the principle of providing greater flexibility to employees and reaping the benefits of a happier, more productive workforce.
How does a hybrid workplace benefit employees?
A hybrid workplace offers greater flexibility to employees than traditional office-based work, leading to a greater quality of life. Employees don’t feel like they need to sacrifice their career in order to focus on their family or hobbies and vice versa.
Many struggled to navigate work-from-home in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, without office space at home, juggling children or other household members, and getting up to speed with new tools and technologies to work. However two years on, the benefits of this working arrangement have started to far outweigh the challenges.
Flexibility in the workplace is now the top consideration of Singapore workers when looking to join a new company.
According to Swingvy’s Singapore Employee Benefits survey, companies with added flexibility and who encourage a work-life balance are most appealing to Singapore workers. As a benefit, flexibility provides the best long-term value to employees. According to Vantage Circle, 45% of employees would prefer flexible scheduling over pay increases.
How does a hybrid workplace benefit employers?
Deloitte predicts that up to 47.8 million people across the ASEAN-6 nations will transition to remote work over the next few years. Of those nations, Singapore (45%) and Malaysia (26%) have the largest potential remote workforce due to their dominant service industries. According to McKinsey research, 80% of people questioned report that they enjoy working from home, with 41% saying they are also more productive.
Offering flexible hours is probably the single biggest opportunity when it comes to offering perks that actually make a difference to employees. A hybrid workplace is also a draw for the younger workforce, as 75% of millennials want the ability to work flexibility without it impacting their eligibility for a promotion. It also comes at little to no cost to the company, with the potential for cost savings in office space cost and overheads.
An additional benefit is the lessening reliance on location based work gives employers access to a wider pool of talent. Highly qualified remote workers can be sourced from out of town and even overseas, if tax and employment laws of the locations are considered.
Making a hybrid workplace model work:
In some ways, remote work has made us lose the casual conversation with our colleagues, body language in our communication, and insights and ideas that can be generated through casual encounters. As companies prepare to implement hybrid working in the long-term it’s time to evaluate how we can continue to engage with our people in meaningful ways and continue to deliver value to our customers.
To ensure a hybrid workplace model will be successful, employers should consider the following:
🔸 Implement cloud-based and mobile technology
Digitisation is an enabler of the hybrid workplace. Ensuring everyone has access to the same information and work documents is an essential step to improving transparency, and productivity of teams. Streamlining workflows by digitising content and making use of cloud-based and mobile-enabled platforms will improve the transparency and the transfer of company information, ensuring work is accessible to team members no matter where they are.
Equipment and technology requirements are fundamental to the success of a hybrid workplace, however many of these necessities were addressed early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the initial rush to work-from-home occurred.
Updating user access and security settings, ensuring your people have access to their own records and employment information, and implementing project management tools so everyone is aware of what’s happening on projects are great steps to ensuring productivity is maintained, without added workload.
🔸 Change the physical office space
Personal office booths are a thing of the past. In a hybrid workplace model, work spaces in the office must be changed. This gives employers the opportunity to downsize office spaces, and focus on creating key spaces that will harbour both collaborative work, and focus zones for when employees do come in.
When redesigning an office space, it’s important to consider the way in which the office will be used by employees in a hybrid model. People may be coming together for collaborative work so need large open spaces or larger meeting rooms. Smaller teams may want to work together on projects, requiring more of a hot-desk type model, and many remote employees will need to be ‘phoned-in’ by employees in the office space, so call booths, and conference call screens and equipments should be readily available.
🔸 Encourage communication and collaboration
Effective communication and collaboration form the foundation of successful businesses. In a hybrid workplace environment, enabling easy communication across teams is critical.
According to the National University Health System’s (NUHS) Mind Science Centre, 61% of people working from home feel stressed and burned out. Productivity may have increased, but many are suffering from longer working hours, without the previous divide between work and home life.
Equipping employees with tools to communicate effectively can help them to feel connected while away from the office, and ease the transition between office and remote. Implementing instant messaging and video conferencing software can help your company stay connected, and enable effective communication and collaboration.
80% say they would have better relationships with more frequent team communication while remote working.
Harvard Business Review, Workplace Trends Study, March 2020
🔸 Create a shared company calendar
Transparency and team awareness are key to the success of a hybrid workplace setup. A shared company calendar can keep employees up to date with company events, project deadlines, public holidays of different locations, and even the holidays or in/out of office days of their team-members and other colleagues.
🔸 Establish communities within the workforce
Creating or encouraging employees to establish similar interest groups within the organisation can help employees form connections with each other on a deeper level than through work projects. An intranet or shared company platform for chat and postings, similar to a social network can also be a useful tool in bring the social aspect of office environments into the hybrid model.
How does Swingvy HR software support a hybrid workplace?
Swingvy is an all-in-one Human Resource Management System (HRMS), that makes it easy to onboard, pay, manage and support your employees, no matter where they are.
With the future of work shifting offsite, digitisation of business processes is important. In line with this shift, software has become the new way to manage HR, moving spreadsheets and locally hosted folders to cloud-based platforms, which has streamlined and automated many daily administrative tasks. Digitised HR has the opportunity to positively impact the experience both employees and managers have at work.
Swingvy’s cloud-based HR Hub provides employees with real-time access to their personal data in a secure online system, including e-payslips, leave balance, leave requests, and expense claims, as well as access to company information, a shared company calendar, org-chart, and employee directory. The Swingvy payroll system, expense claims and leave management platform are all integrated to the HR system, so all HR tasks can be managed on one platform.
Companies with remote or hybrid workplaces that utilise Swingvy have the benefit of keeping all employees connected and up-to-date with on-demand access through the platform or free Swingvy mobile app, as well as managing HR tasks of employees and payroll without locally hosted files or paperwork.