From the editor: hybrid working is the talk of the town

When hybrid working is a topic for discussion local radio we know it’s cutting through. But we must ensure firms don’t just pay lip service

 

I was asked to do a bit of radio this week, talking about hybrid working. You can find me on BBC Surrey here. Sadly sandwiched between The Script and the traffic report when I’d much rather have been the warm up man ahead of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition.

The fact they are talking about hybrid radio on regional radio shows it’s an issue that’s cutting through.

This is not just an issue for the financial giants of the City or the multinationals with sites across the UK. The head of the Guildford chamber of commerce is thinking about it.

Wolf of Wall Street

However, those big names with lots of money and a significant work force will set the tone. Goldman Sachs were back in the news this week. They seem to have given up on trying to present a more wholesome image and are basking in their wolf of Wall Street image. All employees will be expected back at their desk this summer. That’s disappointing.

Others are showing a bit more empathy. KPMG will expect employees to do around four days a fortnight in the office. They’ll see their hours reduced for the next few months to allow people to ‘recharge’ after the upheaval of the last year. And everyone’s getting a day off on June 21, the date that all restrictions are due to be lifted. That’s nice, if potentially irresponsible. Hopefully the extra holiday will come with a Jonathan Van Tam style warning not to ‘tear the pants out of it’.

The focus unfortunately so far has been on how companies will adopt hybrid working. What works for the bosses. The inevitable savings in office space.

Family

We need to move that conversation on to the other side of the equation. How are employers going to accommodate the needs and desires of their workforce? Particularly those with family responsibilities. Will women still be expected to do more working from home? Even though we know many working dads want that flexibility.

Will flexible working come to mean working from home? For there are many other forms of flexible working and working dads need access to the full suite of options if they are to customise their work life balance to their particular needs.

It’s extremely positive that the topic of hybrid working is being discussed. But that’s just part of the solution. Now we need working dads to take part in that discussion and shape it to ensure our needs are met and it’s not just imposed by employers according to what works for them. It we’ve learned anything from the pandemic it ought to be the importance of good communication, and that is a two way street.





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