By Jenny Legg, Flexibility Works’ Head of Communications
Our new research with more than 1,000 Scottish office workers shows hybrid working is the new normal with seven people able to work in a hybrid way. But there are many different ways to ‘do’ hybrid, so how much are employers really asking people to be in the office?
We found Scottish office workers have been given the following instructions by their employers:
In total, 71% of office workers in Scotland have been offered some kind of hybrid arrangement while 29% have been told to work in the office full time. Among those who have the opportunity to work hybrid, the average number of days in the office each week is 2.1.
We’ve published these findings – and many more – in a new report called What does hybrid working look like in Scotland? to help employers benchmark their approach to hybrid and provide evidence-based insights on how to make hybrid successful for people and for businesses.
Impact on culture and connection
While some employers are concerned that hybrid working may have a detrimental effect on connection and culture, our new data shows this is not the case, and that there are, in fact, small positive gains for employers that offer hybrid. These gains increase for organisations that give workers ‘complete freedom’ on when to come to the office.
Our data shows:
86% of hybrid workers with complete freedom on when to work in the office feel connected with their team and wider organisation, compared with 80% of all hybrid workers and 77% of people told be in the office full time.
85% of hybrid workers with complete freedom on when to work in the office feel aligned with their organisation’s values, compared with 70% of all hybrid workers and 69% of people told to work in the office full time.
83% of hybrid workers with complete freedom to decide when to work in the office say their working culture is positive and strong, compared with 74% of all hybrid workers 69% of people told to work in the office full time.
Blending PR with (actual) fire fighting via hybrid and flex
Toni Dowling uses hybrid working and reduced hours in her PR role with Muckle Media so she can also be an on-call (retained) fire fighter at Killin Community Fire Station in rural Perthshire.
Toni is on call for Scotland Fire and Rescue Service much of the week, and is called out roughly once a fortnight to deal with various incidents including fires, road traffic accidents and water rescues. But she is also able to book time off when required to keep dedicated time for her Muckle role.
Toni, who’s 26, and lives on her family’s farm in Killin, said: “Muckle has been so supportive. I have protected time for Muckle when things are really important or time sensitive, such as meeting clients or if I have a project deadline. Around that, Muckle is really flexible. I work in the office about once a month and always look forward to it. But I mostly work from home so I’m on-hand if an emergency call comes through.
“I feel like I have the best of both worlds, with two different but brilliant careers, and it’s down to the fact Muckle has an open mind on how work can be done. I’m so pleased I’ve been able to build a life around the community I love.”
Toni is an account manager for Muckle Media and works 28 hours a week, mostly from home.
Muckle Media’s perspective
Muckle’s managing director, Nathalie Agnew, said: “Hybrid working, alongside our other flexible ways of working, has made our business better. Since moving to a hybrid four-day week, our percentage of billable hours has increased, which shows our productivity has gone up. It’s also appealing from a recruitment perspective and ‘sticky’ in terms of retention.
“We put a lot of trust in our staff and let them work the way they want. In return we expect everyone to work hard. It’s a two-way thing. But if you get the culture right then the work just clicks into place.”
Muckle Media employs 22 people across Scotland, from Edinburgh to rural Perthshire and Inverness. The company works a four-day week and has a ‘hybrid remote and digital first’ approach. Office presence is not monitored and there are no company-wide rules on when to meet in-person except a team day every other month. Each team decides as and when to meet up in person. But the company is proactive in ensuring staff – however remote – still feel connected to their colleagues.
Hybrid success for Hymans Robertson
Financial services firm Hymans Robertson has asked its 1,300 staff to work in the office approximately 40% of their contracted time, equivalent to two days in the office for full time workers. They’ve also extended their ‘standard’ working hours to 7am-7pm to give greater flexibility on time. But the company has also told staff to be purposeful about office visits, to come in for meetings and events, or for specific tasks that are better in-person.
Sarah Lyon, an HR business partner at Hymans Robertson’s Glasgow office, said: “Generally, the feedback we are getting is that people are enjoying hybrid working. They like coming to the office for the social interaction, and they like the ease of working from home with no commute time or cost.
“People tend to come in for team meetings, seeing clients, or when they want to work with colleagues. I think we’ve all re-thought what kinds of tasks are better done at home, and which are better done in the office, and we’ve settled into the routine.
“The main benefit people talk about, myself included, is that hybrid working and our other agile ways of working just make life easier. There’s less of a rush in the morning, or people can go to the gym at lunchtime more easily. They are small things but make a big difference.
“From a business perspective, the firm is doing well. We’re winning clients and our forecasts for what will be delivered are growing. Hybrid working has had no negative impact on any of that. It’s a nice selling point during recruitment too.”
How to get hybrid right?
The new research backs up our existing insights from our direct experience helping employers implement hybrid (and other flex) effectively. The most successful hybrid arrangements are in organisations that have:
Listened to staff and included their opinions when making decisions about where people work.
Provided extra training for managers to ensure they don’t favour people who work ‘like them’, are confident in managing remote workers, and know how to have difficult conversations if someone isn’t coming in when they should.
Monitor and evaluate the impact of hybrid on business performance.
You can download our full report for more insights and advice, or get in touch for more information about our hybrid training and consultancy support.