Hiring

Developing an Effective Hybrid Workforce – From Recruitment to Performance Management

Read through your favorite business blog, scroll down your LinkedIn feed, or switch over to Bloomberg and it won’t be long before you come across the term ‘hybrid working’. If you’re one of the thousands of businesses looking to keep employees happy with a hybrid workforce, the good news is you’re not alone. 

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the concept of a hybrid workforce, how it’s come about, and its effect on the future of work. Once you’ve got that baseline knowledge, we’ll finish up by guiding you through five ways to hire and operate an effective hybrid workforce. 

It’s a big topic, so let’s get started!

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What is a Hybrid Workforce?

While the term ‘hybrid working’ has become pretty popular following the pandemic, it’s been around for a while. Despite many organizations taking emergency COVID measures by mandating their staff work from home, a hybrid workforce model is far more deliberate and defined. 

At its core, a hybrid workforce is a workforce that is both diverse and agile. It incorporates a mix of employees who work from a single fixed location (either the office or from home) and employees who are flexible between the two. 

Go into any office before 2020, and in most situations, you’d have found people who ‘worked from home a day or two a month.’ While this was great at offering employees flexibility, it likely came with an accepted level of lost productivity or left employees in a position where they only completed certain types of work on their ‘at-home’ days. 

That’s because a genuinely hybrid workforce is one where any mix of employees can work from the office or at home and still have the same working experience. To achieve this, organizations have to update their culture, change their ways of working, and upgrade their technology systems to make hybrid working a practical reality. 

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How Has the Hybrid Workforce Come to Be?

Within the longer history of business, the hybrid workforce model is still relatively new. After all, this way of working simply wouldn’t have worked 20 years ago, and it wouldn’t have even been imagined 50 years back. 

So, what’s changed to make the hybrid workforce a reality? Here are a few key reasons hybrid working has come to be. 

  1. Attitudes to Work. It’s been well-documented how generations of the ’90s onwards have re-imagined what it means to work. No longer is it simply accepted that work happens from 9-5, Monday-Friday at a single office location.

    Employees demand flexibility in their working lives to ensure their job fits around their lives and actively contributes to a healthy work/life balance. And with lifetime jobs far less common than they were in the 1900s, employees who aren’t satisfied in their jobs and, now more than happy to switch things up. 
  2. Technology. The great enabler to hybrid working is the rapid rise of digital technology. Powerful computer hardware coupled with innovative software packages means many jobs are completed from anywhere as long as you have a connection.

    With the recent advancement in video conferencing and collaboration software, you now don’t need to be co-located with your peers to conduct your work either. For many employees, this opens the door to ask ‘why’ they need to be permanently located in an office, to which managers are running out of reasons to reject it.
  3. Cost Efficiencies. Of course, the hybrid workforce model isn’t just pushed by employees, there are benefits to the organization too – especially when we look at the bottom line.

    Office space is one of the key areas businesses can rationalize when it comes to hybrid working, as fewer people in an office means less space is required. When you also consider a reduction in travel expenses, remote working seems to make sense so long as the productivity remains at the same level.
  4. Sustainability. Perhaps this generation’s most prominent social concern is climate change, with organizations and individuals becoming increasingly conscious of their carbon footprint.

    A hybrid workforce is invariably less of a pollutant as you reduce the amount of commuting and waste generated by operating a workplace across the employee base. 
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The Benefits & Challenges of a Hybrid Workforce

Like any operating model, hybrid working presents benefits and challenges to both the employee and the organization. Before you head into adopting a hybrid workforce, make sure you’re prepared to tackle the setbacks alongside exploiting the benefits!

The Benefits

Employee Benefit #1 – Flexibility. Above all else, a hybrid working model gives the employee flexibility to create a better work/life balance. Having the ability to work from home to align your day with chores, appointments, or family commitments is a massive bonus.

Not only does workplace flexibility help employees get more things done, it’s better for mental health and, in some cases, more cost-effective.

Employee Benefit #2 – Employee Happiness. All of the above leads to greater employee happiness both in and out of work. A happier employee is a more productive employee, allowing them to achieve more in their day and increase their work fulfillment.

From an employer’s point of view, happier employees generally lead to better staff retention and less churn. Retaining great talent is fundamental to the success of any business, meaning experience is retained, and customers receive consistency.

Organization Benefit #1 – Cost-Effectiveness. We’ve touched on it previously, but hybrid working allows employers to reduce costs in critical areas. This mainly centers around traditional utility costs, such as rent, electricity, and water, but can also extend to other services such as office supplies and catering.

Requiring people to be in a physical location a lot less inevitably leads to a reduction in travel expenses, too, with hefty costs for flights, hotels, and food allowances likely to reduce.

Organization Benefit #2 – Talent Attraction. Especially for young employees, the concept and application of a hybrid workforce can be a significant factor in someone choosing to work for you. Having genuine hybrid flexibility is appealing to employees given the many benefits we’ve touched on above.

A hybrid model which requires less frequent travel to an office location also serves to expand your talent radius. You may now have access to new talent who may not have considered your organization when they were mandated to attend the office every day. More applicants increase your chances of securing the best employees for future vacancies! 

The Challenges

Employee Challenge #1 – Burnout. While the ability to work from anywhere is great for employees, it can lead to pressure to always be working. Having the ability to stay logged on at home can inadvertently lead to longer hours as it eliminates the natural separation between work and home. 

All work and no downtime leads to burnout, with employees feeling overworked and stressed due to the relentless pressure to be productive. Ironically, this leads to major periods of lost productivity and, in the worst case, can lead to employees needing to take sick leave to ensure their mental health recovers.

Employee Challenge #2 – Feeling Part of The Team. For many organizations, company culture is built on having employees collaborating, socializing, and working together. As employees transition to a hybrid working pattern, they can at times feel disconnected from their colleagues.

Especially when you compare the hybrid model to fully office-based or fully remote environments, the mix and match approach to co-location can lead to people feeling excluded at certain times.

Organization Challenge #1 – Staff Inequality. While many staff members may enjoy working from home, organizations have to be conscious that it isn’t the ideal solution for everyone. For any number of personal reasons, certain employees may not be able to work from home and might feel disadvantaged by a hybrid model.

This is where flexibility can really help, with organizations taking a pragmatic approach to hybrid working and allowing those who want to be predominantly office-based to operate in that way.

Organization Challenge #2 –  Reliance on Technology. Even though technology is one of the great enablers of hybrid working, it is also one of the critical blockers when things go wrong. Organizations need to ensure their networks, systems, and hardware are up to the challenge of hybrid working, which may require significant investment.

In a hybrid model, if critical IT systems go down, work will inevitably grind to a halt as teams cannot communicate or action their tasks. A hybrid organization’s reliance on technology will be an ongoing risk that needs managing through redundancy and disaster recovery. 

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How to Switch Up Your Business Model to Support Hybrid Working

Now that you know exactly what a hybrid working model is, what it delivers and what to watch out for, it’s time to think about how you operate it within your business. 

You can make some quick and easy tweaks to ensure your operations suit how your employees work, both at home or in the office. 

First, start by reviewing your ways of working to ensure your employees can be equally effective no matter where they are. In most situations, if you can complete a task remotely, you can also complete it in the office, so try taking a ‘remote first’ approach to level the playing field. 

Working as a team, ensure you implement the right structures for your hybrid workforce to collaborate, make decisions, and escalate challenges. This might mean changing how and when the team meets, how managers complete 1-2-1’s, or the processes used to sign off work.

Then, as your teams begin to settle into a hybrid way of working, take time to reset expectations of what’s required as part of their job roles. Hybrid working may present opportunities to redefine an employee’s requirements, adding or removing responsibilities from the previous office-based working pattern. 

All of these changes mean the playing field for measuring performance has changed, so take the opportunity to reassess your performance management model. Now more than ever, employee success should be based on real outputs rather than hours worked, remembering that the mantra of ‘work being a thing you do, rather than a place you go’ is now in full effect for many hybrid organizations. 

And to finish, remember that work still needs to be a place people connect and have fun, so re-imagine how you’ll secure a great culture for your teams in a hybrid world. Given hybrid working can leave some people feeling isolated, invest additional time and effort into events that bring the team together (both virtually and in-person) while creating more opportunities to share success, provide recognition and socialize.  

5 Ways to Adapt When Hiring for a Hybrid Workforce

As the recruitment process is the first insight new employees get into your organization, it’s essential to embody a hybrid culture from the start. With that in mind, here are five things you can do to not only make your recruitment more hybrid friendly but also help you hire great hybrid working candidates. 

#1 – Promote Hybrid Working In Your Job Ads

First and foremost, ensure that you’re shouting about your hybrid workforce setup right through your hiring process. As we’ve seen, for many employees, the ability to work in a hybrid way is a massive factor in choosing who they want to work for, so use that in your favor to attract great talent. 

This, of course, starts with your job ads, so while you don’t want to make them too wordy, make sure you squeeze in your hybrid sales pitch. The benefits are two-fold, not only will you potentially attract more candidates, you’ll attract candidates who are aligned to a hybrid way of working, meaning they’ll fit in straight away. 

#2 – Widen Your Net

If you’re focusing your outbound recruitment in your local area, hybrid working may enable you to attract high-quality candidates from further afield. A reduced office commitment may mean new applicants who were put off by the daily commute may now become interested in your organization.

Don’t just focus this on the physical radius, either. There are many job boards out there that specialize in applicants looking for remote/home-based work. Experiment with these niche job boards as they may help you get in front of new candidates who tend to stay away from mainstream sites such as Indeed, Monster or LinkedIn. 

#3 – Assess New Skills

Certain types of people fare better with hybrid working than others. To successfully operate both remotely and in-person, individuals need a couple of different skillsets as well as being agile and robust in how they think. 

When it comes to the filter process, assess candidates on online communication and digital literacy skills to ensure they’ll be just as effective and self-sufficient in a remote environment. 

Of course, a great way to do this is to use skills testing software, such as Toggl Hire, to give you real-life insights into how candidates perform day-to-day. Not only can you assess dedicated job roles, such as a Marketing Manager, but you can also assess candidates on their communication skills through our Video Intros. 

If you’ve got a few minutes, why not take a look at our Video Intros feature to see how Toggl Hire can help you look beyond a resume during the interview process?

#4 – Embody Hybrid Working Within Your Hiring Process

There’s no better way to show your candidates you’re a hybrid organization than to embody it within your recruitment process. Mix up your selection process with a range of different remote and in-person steps to not only showcase how you work but to test candidates in different settings. 

Embedding some virtual steps is also more efficient for you as a business, given you’ll reduce travel time alongside any additional costs incurred through attending the office. 

#5 – Invest in New Technologies

Like many aspects of hybrid working, one of the pillars to success is to invest in the right technology. While we’ve already discussed our Toggl Hire tool for skills testing, take the opportunity to review any other systems you may need to implement to deliver a hybrid recruitment process. 

This review can be pretty broad. Don’t just focus on your central candidate management tool, but also think about how you can improve the use of collaboration, chat, and video conferencing calls within the hiring team too.

Summary

The transition to a permanent hybrid workforce model is something many organizations are currently considering. COVID has served as the ultimate acid test for remote working, with many employees now demanding a blend of home and office-based operation.

There are many benefits to hybrid working, with employees gaining flexibility while organizations can reduce costly overheads. Of course, there are challenges, too, with organizations needing to change how they operate to maximize productivity. 

In the recruitment space, changes can be made to embody hybrid working and attract dynamic new candidates. Subtle tweaks to job ads, investment in new technology, and the incorporation of skills testing are just some of the ways hiring professionals can both streamline their processes and hire awesome new talent in a hybrid world! 

October 29, 2021