4.1 The new working environment
While some organisations might prefer to take a wait-and-see approach to working practices and cultural evolution, learning from their workforce’s experiences can provide valuable insights. Listening to those whose working patterns did not significantly alter during the pandemic, as well as those who had to change their working patterns, gives organisations an opportunity to consider and experiment with which working practices to keep and which to discard.
Research by the Corporate Research Forum suggests that hybrid flexible working has become the norm, and how organisations develop their policies and working practices needs to accommodate the new norms whilst considering ongoing organisational needs.
The Advanced Workplace Hybrid Working Index tracks the uptake of hybrid working globally, and its first report in August 2022 found:
- On average only 26% of the population are attending the office each day with a peak of 31% in the office on a Wednesday.
- Only 40% of the desks in office are being used at peak time on a Wednesday, with an average run rate of 31% leaving over two thirds of the desks empty on average across the week.
- On average each worker, is attending the office 1.3 days a week, which is similar to the intentions expressed through our surveys during the pandemic.
- The majority of organisations have not set a Hybrid Working Policy and for those that have attendance is well below the level set in their policy.
Source: The AWA Hybrid Working Index [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]
This index can help organisations to understand how its hybrid workforce is now working, which can be useful for planning new ways of working, including the use of space. You will explore this later in the course.
Activity 11: How do you work now?
While some organisations are now fully remote only, this is not achievable/practical for others. The Welsh Government has an ambition to see around 30% of Welsh workers working ‘at or close to home’ (source: senedd.wales).
Working practice approaches can be split into four areas:
- On site only
- Hybrid – on site and in remote location
- Remote location only
- Remote location – away from primary base. (e.g., field research as an academic, work hubs)
Take some time to consider the different types of working practice and the Future Generations Five Ways of Working. Spend some time researching what these approaches could mean for an organisation, teams and individuals.
What are your principles for ways of working and how they might relate to the Future Generations Five Ways of Working?
Summarise your thoughts in the box below.
In answering this you may have drawn on your own values and experiences or centred on the organisational context. The purpose of this activity is for you to start thinking about what principles may help to develop new ways of working within your organisation.
The OU uses the following principles which have been mapped to the Five Ways of Working from the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
OU – University-wide principles for ways of working:
- Strive to create a working environment that is inclusive, collaborative, and equitable.
- Strive to achieve a balance between our personal preferences, the needs of our colleagues/team/unit/school and the requirements of the organisation to deliver education, support students and undertake research.
- Position sustainability and our commitment to achieve net zero carbon as an important driver in our decision making.
- Learn from our experiences and commit to testing new ideas and approaches.
- Empower local units/teams.