What Did We Learn About Hybrid Working in 2021?

The Hubble Team
The Hubble Team|

A recent study found that 41% of companies will embrace hybrid working by 2023, and many made a start in 2021.

And at Hubble, we’re no exception. Our own hybrid journey has been an interesting one. Not only have we successfully adopted a hybrid workplace strategy, but we also became the world’s first hybrid workplace platform at a time when the office industry was up in the air.

Over the past year, we’ve been on a mission to empower every organisation to find their ideal blend from working from the HQ, home, and on-demand workspace via our flagship products; the Workplace Strategy Tool, Hubble HQ, and the Hubble Pass.

And in 2022, we’re determined to do the same. But let’s take some time to reflect, just for a moment. After all, it’s been a crazy year. With 12 months of adapting, experimenting and shifting our perceptions on how and where we work, what have we all learnt about hybrid working in 2021?

Employees not only want, but expect options

It’s no secret that the ‘Office vs WFH’ debate polarised the masses. In the media, the discussion seemed pretty binary; while some thought WFH was an “aberration”, others would rather quit their jobs than experience the commute ever again. 

But if you were to speak to the people on the front line of the decision making, you’d hear a completely different story—one that’s much more collaborative. Employees. Want. Options.

2021 taught us that flexibility, autonomy and choice is now the #1 demand for workers worldwide—and hybrid working is what seals the deal. The ability to let employees decide how and where they work promotes fluid (not fixed) workplaces, which goes a long way in nurturing top talent.

“We are humans after all, not machinery in a factory. We need different spaces, for different activities, for different people at different times. We believe that the organisations that respond to this will have happy and productive teams”Tushar Agarwal, CEO and Co-Founder at Hubble.

Hybrid working is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution

So, if employees expect choice over how and where they work, this means there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to hybrid working. Since every company is unique, there’s no rule book to follow. Some companies are office-first; others are remote-first, and some don’t have a first!

From Spotify to Twitter, every company is taking a different approach to their hybrid working strategy—and tweaking their policies along the way. Revolutionising the workplace is an iterative process, after all. Just look at Amazon’s massive U-turn

Keen to discover how famous companies have approached their workplace strategies? Check out our Official List of Every Company’s Back-to-Office Strategy! It’s updated weekly, and highlights how various major players are adapting to the ongoing pandemic.

On-demand workspaces can give businesses the flexibility they need

“Can we really justify the cost of an office if we’re not going to use it all the time?”

If you’ve asked yourself this question, you’re not alone. But don’t worry; what makes hybrid working so effective is that there are plenty of solutions available to help businesses work in a way that suits them (and save money!) 

Office rent is the second largest fixed cost for most businesses, with the average cost per employee at £500 per month in London. But with a hybrid workplace strategy under your belt, you can easily ‘flex’ the fixed office budget and get that all-important agility in times of uncertainty.

That’s why we created The Hubble Pass—your all-access ticket to a global network of on-demand workspaces. With it, you and your team can tap into top-quality coworking spaces, private day offices and meeting rooms across 600+ locations (and counting!)

“The Hubble Pass has given our team great flexibility to work in coworking spaces across London and the ability to safely meet up to work on projects that aren’t possible to collaborate on remotely. I would highly recommend the Hubble Pass to companies looking to bridge the gap between home working and the office”Nick Forster, Co-founder & Operations Director at London Filmed.

People Ops pros need to involve employees in building work policies

In 2021, we saw a couple of well-known companies make the mistake of announcing huge structural changes to their team without consulting employees first. 

For example, in June 2021, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent employees an email that asked them to return to the office for three days per week—Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, with the option to work remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays.

In response, Apple employees addressed Tim Cook in an open letter that, in the opening paragraph, said, “we feel like the current policy is not sufficient in addressing many of our needs”.

As mentioned above, hybrid working is an iterative process. But by getting your team involved in building your policies early, you’ll be able to avoid any time-consuming U-turns and, most importantly, create a working environment that’s fairer for everyone in 2022.

Writing (or rewriting) your hybrid workplace policy can feel like a daunting task—but it’s not one you need to do all on your own. We’ve created a free downloadable checklist that’ll help you write an inclusive workplace policy for 2022 in no time. Grab for your free copy today!

There’s no denying that hybrid working has brought on a whole host of legal hurdles that many businesses have never faced before. So if you’re thinking of adopting a “Work from Anywhere” policy in 2022, ensuring your business is compliant is a top priority.

Whether it’s firing off DSE (Display Screen Equipment) Assessments or managing payrolls in another country, there are plenty of logistics to wrap your head around. If you’re unsure of where to start, we teamed up with our partners at LegalEdge last year to help demystify the topic.

From the legal implications of ‘WFA’ policies to top tips on managing distributed teams, in-house lawyer, Nick Pritchett, gives his answers to the most pressing questions on the legal logistics surrounding hybrid working. If there’s any knowledge to take into 2022, it’s this!

Culture is too important to leave to chance

One of the biggest challenges businesses have faced over the past year is keeping their company culture alive whilst teams are remote. While we have experienced an easing of social restrictions, the shift to hybrid working means that we’re not always working together in the same room. 

In a company HQ, culture happens organically. Whether it’s a spontaneous team lunch or a chat by the coffee machine, it’s easy to build a bond with colleagues. But with hybrid working, things are a little different. 

People Ops pros have to be even more deliberate with maintaining company culture. It’s crucial to make sure it extends to every single member of the team, no matter where they work. In 2021, we saw this come to life with better onboarding experiences, innovative team retreats and fairer policies.

Great talent won’t settle

Last year, the news was bombarded with headlines about ‘The Great Resignation’. People have realised that if their current job doesn’t fit their lifestyle or values, they can simply find opportunities elsewhere. 

In order to attract, retain and nurture great talent, hybrid companies have to take action on the things that really matter. True inclusion. Better benefits. Flexible Working. Marie Krebs from Learnerbly said:

“Think of your People Experience like it’s a subscription service. If people are happy with the quality of service you’re offering, (the service being the People Experience), then they will want to stay. If they are not, they will leave.”

In December 2021, we hosted a webinar where Marie and three other amazing People Ops pros gave actionable advice on adjusting to the changing role of People Ops—including the complexities of remote onboarding. Watch a replay of the discussion for free!

How Hubble can help

So, what’s the one takeaway that binds all these lessons together? For us at Hubble, we’re firm believers that Hybrid Working works best when it’s inclusive, flexible and personalised to every employee.

This is because each member of your team is unique. They’ll all have different life circumstances, personalities, and backgrounds, which will strongly influence their working styles and preferences.

By giving employees the tools they need to take ownership over how they work, that’s when you can expect to get the best from their people. At Hubble, we can help you do this via our flagship products: 

  • Understand how your team wants to work with our Workplace Strategy Tool
  • Find the perfect long-term office for your business with Hubble HQ
  • Get on-demand access to hundreds of top-quality workspaces around the world with the Hubble Pass

Our mission to make hybrid working easy for all has only just begun. Click the link below to get in touch with an advisor or find out more. 

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