Claire McCartney: What does the future hold for hybrid working?

While we have heard many headlines in recent months of larger employers calling workers back into the office full-time, our flexible and hybrid-working research findings at the Chartered Insititute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), published in May 2023, show that employers’ approaches on the whole, are much more balanced than this.

Eighty-three per cent of organisations say they have hybrid working in place. Forty-five per cent have a formal policy, 24% take an informal approach, and 13% are developing policies through learning or trialling.

Over half (52%) of organisations say they require hybrid working employees to be in the workplace for a minimum number of days in the working week or month, while 46% do not and employees are most likely to be required in the workplace for two (35%) or three (33%) days a week.

And when it comes to employee preferences, 71% said they view a flexible-working pattern as important to them when considering a new role, while 69% say the ability to work remotely is important.

Our view at the CIPD is that office environments provide valuable opportunities for collaboration, learning and social interaction, but the pandemic has also demonstrated the value of remote working in fostering employee wellbeing and work-life balance without compromising on productivity. From an inclusion perspective, home and hybrid working can also provide accessible employment for some people who may not be able to work at all otherwise.

For many employers, this is not about setting a default, but finding the right balance between office and hybrid working that supports people’s productivity and wellbeing, while meeting the needs of the business. There is no one size fits all so organisations will need to be prepared to trial, learn and adapt new practices to make sure they are fair and inclusive and that they are supportive of employee wellbeing.

It is also important to recognise that many workers in frontline roles do not have this option. As well as remote working, employers should consider a range of flexible options that can benefit all their staff, such as flexitime, compressed hours, flexibility in scheduling shifts, job-sharing and term-time working.

Claire McCartney is senior policy adviser at the Chartered Insititute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)