Making blended working work: strategies for successfully navigating the modern work environment

In a recent survey, 60% said they would turn down a job if hybrid working was not offered

Business people attending a hybrid meeting with some people in a conference room and others attending via video conferencing on a large screen.
Investing in tools such as virtual conference rooms can help streamline workflow across hybrid teams and supports collaboration. (Getty/Getty Images)

The traditional idea of work has changed significantly in recent years.

A key strategy that many organisations have adopted in order to face changing employee preferences is blended working.

A hybrid model that combines remote and in-office work, blended working has now become an expectation among employees.

According to a recent national survey, 60% of participants stated they would turn down a job if hybrid working was not offered, and 40% of participants stated blended working provides a better work-life balance and increased job satisfaction.

Therefore, it is clear that organisations must know how to navigate this environment in order to capitalise on its benefits.

For blended working to operate seamlessly, it is our experience that it is essential to start by creating a clear policy framework.

Organisations must establish a framework setting out eligibility for remote work, as well as guides on scheduling flexibility, communication protocols, performance evaluation standards and technology usage.

These clear policies and guides encourage consistency, accountability, and transparency, giving employees a strong base on which to navigate the blended work environment.

Leaders must also consistently demonstrate a strong commitment to showcasing the benefits of both remote and in-office time.

They can help develop a cohesive culture that transcends physical boundaries in order to foster an inclusive, trusting, and open environment.

Virtual team-building exercises, employee recognition initiatives, and knowledge-sharing gatherings foster a feeling of community and solidarity among both on-site and remote workers.

Leaders should diversify activities and maintain the “feedback loop” – testing and iterating ways of working.

Not all concepts for reimagining in-office time will appeal to everyone. Periodically surveying employees to discover what works well and what does not in terms of blended working can help check on employee well-being and maintain open lines of communication.

Leaders should make use of pulse surveys, ongoing assessments, and frequent informal check-ins to help with this.

From a technology perspective we have found that investing in tools such as virtual conference rooms can help streamline workflow across hybrid teams and supports collaboration.

To efficiently support both in-office and remote teams, organisations should also ensure that managers and supervisors are encouraged and aware of their role in coordinating the work that can be done individually and the work that requires teamwork for maximum productivity.

Whether working remotely or in an office, developing talent and promoting growth in mixed work situations requires strategic thought and investment.

Although virtual training is often easier to coordinate and less costly, attending training in-person makes the learning process more engaging for all involved. It enables practical workshops and gives employees the opportunity to form personal connections.

Organisations should however continue to provide e-learning platforms, webinars, and virtual training sessions to improve employees’ skill sets and knowledge for both in-office and remote work.

Additionally, offering opportunities for skill diversification and career advancement shows a dedication to staff development and promotes retention.

By adopting these strategies, organisations can capitalise on the advantages of blended working. In addition to meeting the needs of the contemporary workforce, blended working offers organisations a chance to grow, develop, and future-proof their operations in a competitive, global economy.

  • Neil Hughes is director for people and change at Grant Thornton Ireland