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Is hybrid working the new panacea?

Is hybrid working the new panacea?

Download the VodafoneZiggo policy for hybrid working now

Office workers absolutely need to be at the office. "This is now an outdated idea", says Thomas Mulder, Executive Director Human Resources at VodafoneZiggo. “They can also work in a 'hybrid' way without any problems: partly at the office, partly at home."

VodafoneZiggo’s new policy on hybrid working, approved by the Works Council, applies to 7,500 employees: anyone not assisting customers in a store or as engineers. Once lockdown has ended, they will soon be allowed to work up to half their weekly hours at home. Note the word ‘allowed’, because VodafoneZiggo will not oblige anyone to do so. "Homeworking is not possible or pleasant for everyone", says Thomas. "Therefore, anyone who wants to be there is always more than welcome at the office every day."

The benefits
“We’ve been seeing good results from homeworking since the first lockdown", Thomas explains. "This has convinced us even further of the benefits of hybrid working." He names three of these benefits:

  1. Greater balance and impact: “Most people flourish when spending more time with their familyand if they can assume their care responsibilities more easily. This makes them happier and they experience less stress. As a result of this, they are less likely to be absent from work and they do their work with greater ease and impact."
  2. Extra sustainability: “More people working from home leads to less traffic on the roads. As a company, we also require less space and energy. This means we reduce our environmental footprint, as we also did with previous policy changes; such as replacing lease cars with public transport cards”.
  3. Attractive employment practice: “Our own surveys, which we conduct regularly, show that employees appreciate it if their organisation makes homeworking possible and feels very strongly about sustainability. Our aim is to attract and retain good professionals. That means we listen to and act on their preferences."

The conditions
Doesn’t hybrid working require a great deal of time and money to organise? “That’s easier than you’d think", says Thomas. Other possible disadvantages can easily be avoided according to him. “Take loss of concentration – and thus work quality – due to having back-to-back online meetings. You avoid this by coordinating meeting and break times properly. Make sure people also have time to have lunch with their family." All in all, the coronavirus crisis has made it clear that VodafoneZiggo office workers can work from home extremely well,” says Thomas. “There was no drop in productivity during the lockdowns, while absenteeism reached an all-time low." This trend is set to continue with hybrid working. “All we have to do is create the right conditions for that new way of working." Thomas explains five of these:

  1. Focusing on results: “Good managers keep in close contact with employees. They focus more on results than on attendance, and ensure the wellbeing of their people. This also means they encourage them to work either entirely virtually or entirely at the office. Team members then have a greater sense of connection and are more effective."
  2. Office for meetings: “It’s crucial that office workers spend half of the week at the office. Not only because these informal meetings often go more smoothly then, but also because in this way employees continue feeling a connection with the company and colleagues – including those outside their team. The open layout of our office stimulates collaborations and encounters with each other."
  3. Attendance rosters: “We divide employee attendance at the office evenly over the week. During the coronavirus crisis, but also afterwards. This means we avoid peaks in office occupancy and travel movements. Team members can come to the office once a week as a team. Board members are setting a fine example herein: they are only all present together on Fridays."
  4. Online meetings: “All teams are keeping their regular meetings virtual, including the Board of Directors. And also after the coronavirus crisis. Anyone at the office is able to use the new space we have for those kinds of virtual meetings. Informal meetings – such as creative, strategic, feedback and evaluation sessions – can still be held in person.”
  5. Equipment for homeworking: “Our office workers must of course have the right furniture and devices for performing their work at home. This is why we provide them with a monitor, keyboard and a laptop stand. They can also receive a one-off tax benefit of up to one thousand euros through VodafoneZiggo to purchase office furniture."

Would you like to know more?
Although more homeworking is no panacea, it can certainly increase employee satisfaction and effectiveness. That applies to commercial companies, but also to NGOs and governmental/semi-governmental organisations “Whether and how employees implement forms of hybrid working is, of course, down to them", says Thomas Mulder. “However, anyone who is curious and doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel can receive information or support with the implementation."

Download the VodafoneZiggo policy and read how we are preparing the organisation for hybrid working.

Get inspired at the ‘Home Working Summit’ on 25 and 26 March

Take part in the Vodafone Business webinar on 30 March: Faster, stronger and smarter through hybrid working