Formerly known as BAME Recruitment

16 Mar 2023

Hybrid Working: What is the Office Now?

Hybrid working has become a post-pandemic practice that 24% of UK workers follow.1 Hybrid working is not a new thing, but has developed dramatically over the last couple of years to something uncertain and unfamiliar. For organisations and businesses, this creates opportunities to rebuild hybrid working which is embedded in inclusivity. 

In January, Diversifying Group invited its partners and businesses to come together for a roundtable discussion on hybrid working and how we can ensure that inclusion is a priority. This blog looks at different discussions and considerations in building practices.  

 

Types of Working 


There are several types of hybrid work that all have different names, such as office-first, remote-first, fixed hybrid and hybrid flexible. On the same day as the roundtable, City AM coined the new hybrid working practices as TW*T working.2 By that, it recognises a London working trend of people going into the office on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, as TFL data shows there was a 13% - 17% dip in commuters on Mondays and Fridays.  

Our partners have been embracing these trends to create a new rhythm to the working week with home and office work having different purposes, where the office is for socialisation and collaboration and the home is for concentration and virtual meetings. This raises the question of what is the office now?  

 

Cost of Living 


After labelling the City of London TW*T workers, the City AM article went on to correlate that office trends are in line with the pressures of the current cost of living, where people are more likely to stay at home to save money and avoid travel costs. However, this can also have the opposite impact, with employees motivated to go into offices to save money on expenses such as energy. The ONS found 86% of people reported an increase in utility bills from home working.3 

Our partners have found that more candidates are asking about benefits and subsidies to support commuting to the office. Therefore, a consideration in a hybrid world is what benefits can employers provide to support employees. 

 

Diversity & Inclusion 


Hybrid working is undeniably supportive of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I). In a McKinsey report on hybrid working, underrepresented groups were more likely to adopt hybrid working practices, and more likely to resign if hybrid working was not permitted.4 The reasoning behind this is that people feel they can be their authentic selves at home, and manage and accommodate their circumstances, such as caring responsibilities and disabilities. Although flexibility is beneficial for some, others may benefit from the regulation and routine of being in an office environment.  

With more people adopting Hybrid working practices, challenges have been amplified around the pressure to look ‘good’ when you are in the office, masking circumstances or identity. This may impact the diversity of people in the office and who is included in the conversation.  

 

Are Organisations Ready?  


More people are adopting hybrid working, and multiple articles across the web agree it is here to stay. However, businesses have put themselves on hold to adjust policies and processes, resulting in inadequate practices that fail to support their employees and D&I commitments.  

Something our partners are aware of and want to address is the new workforce who studied online during the pandemic and are coming into a work environment where there are unfamiliar work expectations that a pre-pandemic workforce has carried with them into online environments. If we don’t address this, we set our future to fail. Therefore, just as hybrid working is being embraced by employees, businesses should embrace the opportunities to set new expectations that can benefit employee wellbeing.  

 

Inclusive Tech 


During our partner discussion, we admitted to ourselves that there are features of the technology we are still finding out about, and how these can benefit inclusion. For instance, did you know that Microsoft Teams has an assistance tool to support inclusion through the apps section?  

There are also aspects of the technology that we use every day that you may not know support inclusion. For example, noise exclusion to support concentration and allow people to bring their whole selves to work or blurring the background to support neurodiverse individuals to minimise distraction and overload.  

 

Diversity in the Office 


ONS data shows that 16-29-year-olds and 50-69-year-olds are more likely to go into the office.3 In addition to this, McKinsey found that traditionally underrepresented communities, such as minoritised ethnicities and people who identify as LGBTQIA+, are more likely to work from home.4 

Therefore, the diversity of people in the office may not be representative of the company as a whole. This can impact decision-making, conversation and opportunities. It is important to ensure there is a supportive practice that ensures communication is inclusive and all voices are heard.  

 

Your Demographic is the Key 


National and global reports can provide insights into the trends, bring comfort in knowing we are not alone, and inspire us with solutions. However, it is our own demographics that guide and form solutions. Ultimately, we want to create hybrid working practices which benefit our own people.  

So, in forming hybrid working practices that are inclusive, collaborate with your people, and co-create a practice for all.  

 
Questions 

In summary, here are some questions to ask ourselves about hybrid working:  

  • What is the office? 

  • Do employee benefits support hybrid work? 

  • Do our policies and practices support inclusive hybrid working? 

  • Do we know how technology can support inclusive hybrid working? 

  • How can we ensure all voices are heard, in the office and at home? 

  • What do our people want? 

 

1Mutebi and Hobbs, UK Parliament, 2022 
2Macola, City AM, 2023 
3Is hybrid working here to stay?, ONS, 2022 
4Dowling, Goldstein, Park and Price, McKinsey, April 2022 

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