Like many businesses during the Pandemic, Talent Point had to adapt in response to, first necessity, then a growing desire for flexibility from our employees. The difference between the world of work prior to 2020 and after is stark; more employees than ever are seeking the ability to choose where and how they work. Some companies in our sector have started to fully resume the traditional in-office mode, this number is even higher in other similarly traditional professions. We, like many others, have embraced the compromise of hybrid work. This approach allows our employees to have a mix of remote and in-office work, providing them with the best of both worlds.
Ultimately, the shift towards hybrid work reflects the evolving needs and preferences of the modern workforce. It highlights the importance of creating a work environment that prioritises employee well-being, productivity, and work-life integration.
We thought after 18 months of hybrid working, we’d give a truthful account of the learnings the change has had on Talent Point.
The business case for hybrid working.
When assessing continued remote working post-pandemic, there were numerous factors we considered, both commercial and personal to our staff. While, like many businesses, we face challenges with productivity, employee engagement, and culture, there’s also instances where hybrid working has positively impacted these factors.
Commercially, we’ve saved exponentially on expensive office real estate when we're all feeling the squeeze due to current market pressures. We’ve also seen a positive impact on retention and lower rates of mental health days and employee illness. We’re able to hire faster as our talent pool has significantly increased to locations outside of the capital.
Remote working forced our business to adapt and maintain essential functions and operations, regardless of physical location. This flexibility enables teams to continue their work, collaborate effectively, and meet deadlines, even when faced with challenging circumstances.
By offering employees the flexibility to work remotely and create a better work-life balance, we have seen a higher level of job satisfaction and engagement. This, in turn, has contributed to increased loyalty and commitment to our organisation. They appreciate the flexibility and autonomy that hybrid work offers, allowing them to perform their work obligations while still having time for family, personal interests, and self-care.
A recent employee satisfaction survey clearly indicated a substantial increase in how our employees feel cared for and supported by our organisation. This rise in support has not only fostered a positive work environment but has also led to the results mentioned above.
Maintaining this working environment requires ongoing effort and commitment. We have established and refined things like regular check-ins, feedback mechanisms, and continuous improvement processes to monitor the effectiveness of our hybrid work model and address any concerns or challenges that may arise. We encourage open dialogue through Employee Resource Groups, ongoing surveys and collaboration, and we actively support initiatives that promote self-care, stress management, and professional and personal growth.
“Working in a hybrid environment has boosted my productivity while reducing my stress and anxiety levels”.
Hybrid working & diversity
We’ve also seen a positive impact on the diversity of our organisation. For us that has particularly involved those outside of London, neurodiverse candidates, and parents. We’ve hired multiple Talent Point staff from across those demographics who have been outstanding performers but also cultural advocates for us over the past few years.
A study conducted by LinkedIn found that 82% of job seekers consider working remotely a crucial factor in their job search (LinkedIn, 2023).
“Hybrid working allows me to be fully present for my children during the mornings and evenings, ensuring I'm there for them when needed whilst also ensuring I keep my performance levels high. This flexibility is invaluable to me.”
By being able to embrace these types of diverse hires we’ve been able to bring in individuals with a wide range of backgrounds, perspectives, and experience. This commitment to diversity has not only fostered innovation but contributed significantly to the culture of our business, creating a workforce that is rich in different viewpoints and ideas.
This diversity of thought allows us to approach challenges and solve problems from multiple angles, leading to more innovative and creative solutions.
The impact of remote working on career development.
In a hybrid working model it is even more crucial to address the unique challenges and opportunities that arise in terms of development and progression pathways. One of our learnings was that expectations and responsibilities may be more difficult to define in a hybrid setting, it is therefore essential to establish clear guidelines and support systems to ensure employee growth and career advancement.
This meant driving a learning culture, providing easy access to the resources and reengineering our industry-leading training to ensure we can develop our people by providing ample opportunities to learn and attain cutting-edge skills. We have also refined our PDP’s and ensured all staff understand through their ROAR’s (Role, Ownership, Accountabilities, Responsibilities) exactly what is expected and how to get to the next level.
The dark side of remote working.
We have faced numerous challenges directly linked to remote work. Dealing with performance issues and communicating difficult messages in a hybrid environment becomes even harder. Saying goodbye to staff is never easy, doing so virtually and potentially without a typical send off has previously impacted engagement, wellbeing, and in some cases, caused broader cultural concerns.
We learned from this early on and had to refine aspects of the hybrid model to ensure our existing team could perform consistently and more importantly, we knew how they were really feeling. This meant refining our expectations of the team, introducing more points for the staff to interact, investing in management, and creating touch surveys to get more feedback on why the staff like working here and what we can improve.
We’ve also faced challenges with isolation; a common concern linked to hybrid working. Recruitment can be a rollercoaster, we know that. This means an increased need to work closely with others who have shared experiences which is key to building relationships, learning and supporting general wellbeing.
“I think once a week is important to attend the office to maintain the social/human interaction”.
Most businesses are still chasing the perfect onboarding experience, and admittedly, hybrid working adds another layer of complexity. We had to reengineer our new starter induction for hybrid working and despite having a great L&D department it’s completely different trying to train new starters in a remote world rather than in-person. We had to change the type of tasks, utilise different learning styles, make resources easier to find, and build remote skills like organisation and time management.
“Definitely with newer starters, it can be more challenging.
“Less convenient to casually approach someone for a brief inquiry, as one would in a traditional office setting”
Collaboration is a key challenge for any business that moves to a hybrid environment and we’re no different. We’ve had to reconsider what communication tools we use, how effective they are and how to maintain a culture where staff feel comfortable and able remotely asking for support rather than waiting to see people face to face.
By embracing this flexible work model, we’ve been able to unlock a world of possibilities, leading to a more efficient, sustainable, and fulfilling work environment. That journey hasn’t always been easy but by continuously evaluating and refining we’re seeing massive positives as an organisation.