The COVID-19 pandemic has turbo-charged the realisation that a one-size-fits-all way of working is not the right way.
Many businesses are looking to hybrid working as a solution for the future – where staff are both working in the office and working remotely from home, flexibly.
At a time when lockdowns are starting to lift, businesses are thinking about plans for returning to the office. Some are still on the fence about whether a combination of remote and onsite working is a good solution for them.
Telstra’s recently commissioned landmark hybrid working report found that businesses who have adopted hybrid working have higher levels of income, productivity and organisational innovation.
The future of the economy
Australia’s economy could be $18 billion larger and more than 42,000 extra full-time jobs could be created over the next decade if the country adopts a hybrid working future.
Businesses with hybrid working have an average of 6% higher income, are 22% more likely to see higher productivity and are 28% more likely to be innovative than those without hybrid working policies.
The research also found that hybrid working could:
- improve customer service by 12%
- lead to more engaged employees, improve employee wellbeing and reduce turnover.
- help small businesses increase their income by 7% for those that do it successfully
- open up the talent pool to more people, from more backgrounds and in more places.
The research for this report was undertaken for Telstra by Deloitte Access Economics and researchers from the Australian National University, providing quantitative analysis using business modelling with ABS data.
With data from over 7,000 organisations and a survey of 1,250 people (business leaders and employees), the report has determined that a hybrid workforce benefits business, employees and the economy as a whole.
Hybrid working for small businesses
The findings in the report are supported by policies at large Australian companies, like Telstra, BHP, Microsoft, CBA and Officeworks. But small and medium businesses can also benefit from this modern working model.
Small and medium businesses have more to gain through hybrid working. One of the reasons is to catch up – as larger organisations have already invested in the digitisation of their customer experiences and workplaces.
Removing barriers to work also creates more opportunities in opening up the talent pool to mums and dads with young kids, people with disabilities or caring responsibilities, and those living in regional and remote parts of Australia.
Making the right decisions as a small business leader
There are a few key factors for success with hybrid work.
- Make deliberate choices to suit your business and people so you strengthen ties with your employees.
- Listen to your people and develop a hybrid working plan that’s easy for everyone to understand.
- Make sure everyone has access to the right tools, software, services and support they need to do their job well. For more information, see our article about managing tech challenges when working remotely.
Offices will still have their place, and having the right tools and facilities available for people to come together for training, collaboration and connection, rather than outdated 9-to-5 work, will be just as important. Now that remote working is here to stay, it’s important to update your setup.
Case study: Telstra’s tried and tested remote working model
Telstra has been working flexibly for the better part of a decade and has seen the benefits for the company, its customers and its people.
Investing in remote working
Telstra has invested in tools and technologies to help employees work in different locations, such as:
- supply of essential office equipment, from monitors to sit-stand desks
- a self-service toolkit solution
- an internal tool that allows staff to book hot desks, car spaces and meeting rooms when they want to come into an office.
Hybrid working linked to happiness
Telstra’s report found that when employees were provided a hybrid working policy that worked for them, along with the tools, technology and support they need, not only did work performance improve, but so did mental health.
- 90% of those surveyed agree their mental health has improved or stayed the same.
- 54% consider hybrid working to be as or more important than a 5% pay rise.
- 83% agree their physical health has improved or stayed the same.
It also found that an effective hybrid working policy leads to employees being more likely to be proud of the organisation they work for, more likely to want to progress their career there and more likely to contribute new ideas. Find more ideas on how to manage wellbeing in the age of remote work here.
Hybrid working isn’t without its challenges, and managing the experiences of employees – from onboarding and cyber security to collaboration and even mental health – will be crucial to this new way of working.
As we come out of one of the most disruptive events in decades, it’s a rare opportunity for you to take a step back and think differently about how you can operate. This way you can build a more resilient, digitally capable organisation that embraces the things that make us all different.