Is hybrid working the right solution for SMEs?

As businesses emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic there is sadly a lot of ground to make up. It is no exaggeration to say that many companies struggled to survive through the pandemic, even with government support. And those that did come through unscathed now face unsure industries and highly unpredictable market conditions.

It is no surprise then that businesses are looking for alternative ways of working and changing up the way they do business. Efforts to streamline, reduce costs and run as lean as possible have become the norm. This is especially the case for SMEs, who may not have the financial reserves and opportunities to diversify income streams.

This has led to many SMEs to look towards ‘hybrid working’ as a model that could be effective. But what is hybrid working – and is a good choice for smaller companies? Here we take a closer look at what it could mean for businesses and establish whether it might be right for you.

What is hybrid working?

Hybrid working is a concept that looks simple on the surface, but in reality was actually relatively rare before the pandemic. Ultimately, it can be considered a form of flexible working but with a closer focus on allowing staff to work from a variety of different locations. Whereas in the past most businesses had in-office and on-premises workers, or they had staff who worked from home. Hybrid offers a mixture of those two concepts.

While staff have the option to work in the office, and do attend the main business premises regularly, they also do a large amount of their work remotely. Hybrid working actually offers a wide range of benefits both to employees and to employers – but why has it suddenly become relevant?

Covid-19 has changed working habits

Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses were forced to allow staff to work remotely. This meant that a number of systems and processes had to be introduced by businesses to make it possible for staff to do their jobs effectively. This includes many smaller businesses.

It is this that has been a catalyst for a huge shift in employees both wanting and being encouraged to work remotely. A report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed that 40% of employers expect at least half of their staff to work remotely to some extent.

There can be no doubt that interest is there for employees. But many businesses are keen to still work from premises and maintain an office. This has led to the growth of companies operating with hybrid working.

The benefits for businesses

If you are not sure whether hybrid working is right for your SME, it is worth remembering that there are massive advantages from your perspective to promote this system of working. Some of these are explained by Evie Jenkins, Senior Digital Marketing Executive at ClearHub: “For businesses, hiring remote staff can help to cut costs such as equipment or office costs.

“In fact, the savings can be so vast that some businesses have opted to work entirely remotely, enabling them to cut these costs entirely. Hiring remotely also enables companies to expand their talent pool considerably, as you’re not restricted to candidates who live within a set distance of the office”.

Allowing staff to have the option to work remotely is a huge step forward, as it can give you access to a broader range of candidates. There is also significant evidence that staff are actually more productive when they are allowed to work at least partially remotely.

Preferred by staff

Staff love having flexibility. Many don’t want to work from home all of the time, but like having the option to do a few days in the office and a few out. When it has been shown that staff are able to manage this without a reduction in productivity and efficiency, it is easy to understand why it can be so effective.

Some staff will prefer working in the office, and there may be some who actually find they can be most effective when remote. But ultimately, having the option is the real benefit here.

Final thoughts

SMEs that are looking to manage their costs might find that hybrid working frees up space in the office, and allows the hiring of staff from further afield, diversifying the talent available. Ultimately it will depend on the specifics of the business to establish whether it’s right for you, but it is certainly an option that should be considered.

Dakota Murphey

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