In a world post lockdown, the social housing sector has seen a prominent shift to move in favour of adopting hybrid working as the new normal and it looks as though social housing organisations in the UK have seen the benefits of allowing their staff to work from home.
Hybrid working – a combination of remote and office based working, has been adopted by many organisations in the sector as a way to get the best of both worlds.
Over a quarter of people in full-time employment in London (36.21%) are working a mixed working schedule during the week, followed closely by South West (35.33%), East Anglia with 30.19%, 29.46% in the South East and 27.18% in the North West (Embryo Digital Agency, 2022).
Recruitment & HR rank among the top sectors in the UK that have incorporated a hybrid working initiative with 55.56% of the sector adopting news ways of working post pandemic. Marketing, Advertising & PR list 53.85% as the percentage of their workforce working a hybrid role and Public Services & Administration surveyed that 49.01% of their workforce are being offered room for a more flexible work/life balance.
So, what about social housing?
Research published by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) in 2020 shows that working from home has a positive impact on staff morale, with almost 70% of employees feeling better equipped to manage their workload. Not only this, but staff reported feeling a greater sense of wellbeing and improved work-life balance when working remotely.
The estimated cost savings of remote working amounts to £2,500 per person in the social housing sector and over the past six months alone 47% of social housing organisations have implemented new technology to support remote working. This has allowed them to increase productivity and keep team morale high, with over 80% of those surveyed saying that their experience of remote working had been positive.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), over half of the UK workforce was working from home in April 2020, with a further quarter being furloughed. Remote working had been particularly beneficial at the time of social distancing, it allowed organisations to keep their teams working effectively and efficiently, whilst maintaining social distancing measures particularly when they had to deal with more vulnerable residents.
Hybrid working however, is not without its challenges, taking care to ensure that teams are well connected and that everyone is on the same page, particularly when some of the team are working remotely can be difficult. There are also technology challenges to consider, such as making sure everyone has the right equipment to communicate effectively.
With that said, the financial benefits of hybrid working are clear. It helps organisations to reduce their overheads as fewer people need to occupy the office space allowing them to invest the money they would ordinarily spend in other areas or simply put this money back into their budgets.
Organisations can stay innovative, whilst ensuring the safety of their employees. Workers who are becoming increasingly affected by the current cost of living crisis benefit from working from home/hybrid working. Not only does it save them money but also time to complete tasks quicker and can have a positive effect on a person’s morale, productivity and wellbeing. With almost 70% of employees feeling better equipped to manage their workload and a greater sense of wellbeing and improved work-life balance, it’s clear that remote working is a great way for social housing organisations to save money and resources.
It may still be too early to say whether hybrid working is here to stay in the social housing sector but with remote and hybrid working continuing to be an option for many organisations, it is no surprise that the trend looks set to continue and with the potential benefits on both sides, it’s worth exploring further.