As lockdown restrictions continue to be eased and plans to transition back into the workplace begin in Singapore, a new hybrid working model will emerge with workforces split between those in the office and those working remotely. This will present various challenges for HR departments, says recruiting experts Hays.

The phased return to the workplace will be a slow one, with many organisations having to redesign the layout of their offices to allow for social distancing, meanwhile the use of common areas such as meeting rooms, receptions, kitchens and toilets will also need to be reviewed. Going forward offices may not be able to accommodate all employees at once, leading to large numbers of professionals continuing to work remotely. 

Sandra Henke, Group Head of People & Culture at Hays, said “First and foremost the health and safety of all workers needs to be at the forefront of all decisions made in relation to the workplace. Second to this are other factors for HR departments to consider, such as increased importance of inclusivity when not all workers are based in the office and promoting collective ownership to make sure there is a communal responsibility toward ensuring the health of all employees.” 

Sandra continued, “Working in a hybrid model will be new to most businesses, and ensure their employees remain happy and productive, HR teams need to take a number of considerations into account as they plan for this new era of work.”

1.    Build and maintain the culture of your business
A company’s culture is the foundation of any business, it exhibits who they are. Operating a hybrid working model makes it harder to not only reinforce culture, but to build on it too. 

Sandra offered this advice; “How we engage with one another is central to any consideration of organisational culture. Ensure you have regular weekly team catch-ups, and make sure they’re not all strictly work related either, having fun and sharing success should be a key aspect any organisations culture. Remind your team that every employee has a role to play in sustaining the company’s culture in the next era of work So, continue to use technology to keep in contact and make sure there is a sharing of good news and success stories from across the team and business.”

2.    Inclusion will become increasingly important
Inclusion will become more important when the majority a workforce is no longer in the office. Employees will be returning to the office with different experiences and potentially different viewpoints, this means the very definition of diversity and inclusion will start to change.

Sandra comments, “Just because you can't see someone, doesn't mean they aren’t part of the team. Ensure communication channels are open, so employees are able to voice their concerns. Encourage participation so employees, no matter where they are based, are taking part in company and team activities.”

3.    Make employee wellbeing a priority
All employees will have had different experiences while in lockdown, each facing different challenges such as childcare commitments or limited space to work. Many employees will also have concerns about returning to the workplace or continuing to work from home, all of which could have a considerable effect on the mental health and wellbeing of professionals.

Sandra said, “The current crisis will have no doubt negatively impacted a number of people and it has the potential to manifest itself overtime. So, consider how you are staying in touch with people and ensure you are providing them with the opportunity to be vulnerable. This will become increasingly difficult when you aren’t seeing your employees on a regular basis. It is important organisations exercise their duty of care, particularly for people who are struggling.”

4.    Promote collective ownership
Once the physical workspace has reopened employers will have a responsibility to make sure all their employees are as safe as possible and that all the necessary measures are in place around social distancing, health and hygiene. However, collective responsibility among employees is essential to ensuring the workplace is a safe place for everyone.  

Sandra commented, “A safe workplace requires every single person in your organisation to share collective responsibility. The notion of all being in it together becomes very real when every human has a role to play in creating a safe workplace through their own behaviour. It needs to be emphasised that every individual has their part to play in creating an environment that brings everyone together and brings everyone together safely, remotely or physically.”

5.    Increase your focus on learning and development    
Organisations will need to ensure their managers of people are equipped to deal with the new era of work, with training programmes preparing them with the necessary tools to manage a hybrid workforce. Existing training will also need to be reviewed to ensure it is sufficient for your workforce in equipping them with the skills they will need for the new era of work.

Sandra offers this advice, “Remote training needs to be treated completely differently to training that is delivered onsite in a single room. You will have to work harder to keep people’s attention, so consider making it easier to digest by breaking the training up into segments. Adapt the training you already have to complement this new era of work and ensure you are focusing on the necessary skills which may be currently lacking, for instance, if you are using more technology than usual make sure your people know how to use it.”

Sandra concluded by saying, “It’s important to remember that it is a learning curve for all of us too, there is not a leader in the world right now who doesn't look back on the last couple of months and think, ‘I could have done that better.’ At the end of the day, we're all human and we're all figuring a lot of this stuff out as we go.”

“Hybrid working could become permanent in the new world of work, with the model becoming the norm, so the sooner HR departments tackle these issues the better.”


About Hays Singapore

Hays Specialist Recruitment Pte Ltd, Singapore ("Hays Singapore") is one of Singapore's leading recruitment companies in recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people across a wide range of industries and professions.

Hays has been in Singapore for over a decade and boasts a track record of success and growth. We operate across the private and public sector, dealing in permanent, temporary and contracting positions in more than 15 different specialisms, including Accountancy & Finance, Banking & Financial Services, Digital Technology, Engineering, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Information Technology, Legal, Life Sciences, Marketing & Digital, Office Professionals, Procurement, Supply Chain and Sales. Hays Singapore was named the “Best Small Workplace” in Singapore in 2019 and 2018, and was ranked fourth “Best Multinational Workplace” in Asia 2020 by Great Place to Work®.

About Hays Plc

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2019 the Group employed 11,500 staff operating from 265 offices in 33 markets across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2019:

  • The Group reported net fees of £1,129.7 billion and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £248.8 million;
  • The Group placed around 81,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 254,000 people into temporary assignments;
  • 18% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 27% in Germany, 23% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 32% in Rest of World (RoW);
  • The temporary placement business represented 57% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 43% of net fees;
  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA