Any way of working has its advantages and disadvantages. Here, Spice Kitchen founder and CEO Sanjay Aggarwal talks about the advantages of this working model.
It’s clear from reading the news and listening to the opinions of business leaders across the globe that employees are making it clear that they want flexibility in how they work. Statistics suggest over half of companies have adopted a hybrid working model since the pandemic in order to respond to this changing trend.
Hybrid working doesn’t work for everyone. As a small family business, we can be pretty agile when it comes to how we work and how we organise our staff, and we like to think we are flexible to what people need. When the pandemic came along, we had to – like everyone else at that time – really step back and look at what roles could be done from home and what was absolutely non-negotiable, as in, it was work that could only be completed in the warehouse.
We are a spice company, and so packing orders and shipping orders had to be done on-site, but everything else was in the pot. It surprised us to learn that almost everything could be done from home, with a little planning and a willingness to adapt.
There is no one size fits all approach to working styles: and not everyone is convinced that hybrid working is a long-term solution. But, there are so many advantages that it is difficult to argue that it isn’t worth exploring, especially if your employees are requesting more flexibility.
Of course, like any new way of working, there are benefits and disadvantages, but here’s what we learned along the way, specifically about the advantages of the hybrid working model.
What is hybrid working?
Firstly, it’s worth understanding what we actually mean by hybrid working. It’s one of those terms that has emerged relatively recently. Hybrid working refers to a system whereby employees are actively encouraged to work both on-site and remotely throughout their contracted hours. The balance of this varies according to the arrangements each company sets out with individual employees, however, the standard appears to be 2 or 3 days in the office and then the remainder at home.
It’s important for any company considering hybrid working to understand that this way of working is not suitable for all industries, and also not suitable for all types of role within a business. As a food-based company, we have to adhere to SALSA standards which means anything produced must fall within our guidelines and systems, so whenever we recruit someone to work in the kitchen or production area, we make it really clear on the job description that hybrid working does not apply to the role.
5 benefits of hybrid working
Empowerment. Employees choose when they want to work from home, so if they have a day when they need to focus, they will take it as a work-from-home day. This means people feel in control and empowered to decide what is right for them, and this, in turn, builds trust. Our office is busy, and it can be really difficult for people to do work that needs a systematic approach because of the number of interruptions and high energy. This leads to fewer mistakes and people generally feeling like they have had a productive day.
Trust from management. Our CEO and managers see that productivity is high when people work from home, and so we have a genuine culture of trust from owners to employees and back the other way. This wouldn’t have happened or been tested if it weren’t for the pandemic, but it has been an unexpected benefit and has led to a deep, genuine trust between the team.
Culture. Spending all day, five days a week, with team members inevitably can mean frustrations build up. With people taking some days to work from home, we are noticing that the office culture is much calmer, and people look forward to coming to work on the days there, as they enjoy being around people.
Productivity. We are noticing increased productivity as staff use the usual commute time to work, so we are seeing people log on earlier in the day and even stay later without this being requested or a requirement of the role. There is a feeling of goodwill from employees, like an appreciation that they can work from home when required, and they are paying this back with productivity.
Understanding staff better. It is also worth considering when adopting a hybrid working pattern that some people are naturally extroverted and will gain motivation and energy from being around others. On the contrary, some who are introverted will work better from home. There is no right or wrong, just a difference in personal preference. But by giving staff the option, you may find that the more naturally extroverted staff choose to come to the office for the human connection, and some will not. It’s important to be understanding and flexible to both.
Employee wellbeing. Two of our remote workers are using their lunch breaks to get things done at home, meaning they are free in the evenings and at the weekend to enjoy more family time. As a small family business, we love this!
Costs to the business. Having a hybrid working model can mean reduced costs in many areas of the business, including the need for less desks and office space generally. The business is seeing some reductions in costs, although we have no hard data, in terms of electricity bills and other operational associated costs with having people in the office.
In summary, it’s worth considering hybrid working for all of the reasons above, but ultimately it has to work for leaders and the specific need of the business.