Mid-sized businesses champion true hybrid working, but adoption struggles remain

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Carl Williams. Grant Thornton. Liverpool. United Kingdom.

New research from Grant Thornton UK LLP’s latest Business Outlook Tracker* finds that, since the lifting of legal COVID-19 restrictions in February, just over half (51%) of the 604 mid-sized businesses surveyed have adopted a hybrid working approach.

This is quite a significant dip compared to responses from the December 2021 round of the Tracker, when 88% of respondents surveyed were working in a hybrid way.

The new findings show that hybrid working is offering many benefits to the 310 businesses who said they were adopting this approach. These benefits include boosting productivity (54%) and improving their people’s wellbeing (65%).

Overall, just over half (51%) of those who have adopted a hybrid working approach find that it is working well in their business. This is a drop compared to December however, where 64% of those working this way believed it was working well, suggesting that struggles remain with adopting an effective approach.

In fact, almost one in five (19%) of those currently adopting a hybrid working approach said that they’re struggling to implement it effectively.

Carl Williams is Partner and Practice Leader at Grant Thornton UK LLP in the North West, said:

“While flexible approaches and working from home has been the norm for many office-based workers over the last two years, most of the time has been spent with everyone having little choice and working the same way – remotely. With legal restrictions now completely removed, we have entered a new environment where companies and their people are learning to embrace and adopt true hybrid working approaches. With more disparate workforces, potentially spread across the country, it will take time for teams to find a rhythm that works for the individuals, the team itself and the needs of the business.

“While having a choice over ways of working may take some time to adjust to, for both businesses and their people, it’s vital that businesses do prioritise this and support their talent in helping them decide how to work. The reliance on technology to keep us connected has been key over the last couple of years, and this next step is no different. Effective and efficient use of technology, and ongoing communication with your people, will once again be critical. But the technology required may change slightly, with requirements for more in-office tools that enable seamless communication and interaction with those at home to support different ways of working and keep a more agile workforce connected.

“There is no doubt that those that fully embrace true hybrid working, and work with their people to support them in deciding what work is best done at home and what sort of work achieves the best results when done in person, will have a sustainable, competitive advantage. Both in productivity and, critically, in attracting and retaining talent.”

The new research follows the findings of an internal survey from Grant Thornton earlier this year which found that, of the 2,206 people in the firm who responded, the majority believe that hybrid working allows them to be more productive (93%) and supports their wellbeing (91%).

A more recent internal firm survey in early May also found that 95% of the 2,018 people who responded feel trusted by their manager to work in a hybrid way and do their job effectively no matter how, when or where they work.

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