Hybride work at your oganisation? - AG Employee Benefits
Interview with Ellen De Vleeschouwer

Published on 13/09/2021


How can your company make a success of hybrid working for good?

You're probably seeing it too: more and more people are alternating between working from home or remotely, and office work. For your organisation, it's important to recognise that hybrid working isn't just a fad... it's the new normal. But if you don't get your policy straight, you risk seeing employee wellbeing and productivity take a turn for the worse. So, the vital question is: how do you embrace this way of working, without sacrificing your staff's health and wellbeing? We talked to Ellen De Vleeschouwer, Founder and General Manager of AG Health Partner.

What is hybrid working?

This new way of working involves structuring our work differently, becoming less dependent on time and place. The focus is output rather than input, and digital tools are a must if we're to make this a success. With hybrid working, you as an organisation have three levers at play: bricks (the office), bytes (the technology) and behaviour (the habits to make this way of working a success).

To what extent are organisations managing to balance these three aspects?

Bricks and bytes are usually already in place, often enough to start working right away, so as an organisation you should focus much of your attention on behaviour. But it's not that straightforward, because this affects the social, physical and mental wellbeing of every one of your staff members, which can significantly influence the success of your business. Make no mistake: hybrid working is not just a matter of combining working from home and office work as we used to know it. It's based on clear rules and structure. That's why it's time for companies to come up with a clear policy.

What should this policy contain?

Based on our expertise at AG Health Partner, there are five pillars that we distinguish between. The first one is to look at the work processes: does everyone need to work the same hours? Traditionally, almost all employees start and finish work at the same time. But there is another method, whereby employees choose themselves when to answer emails or chat messages, but meetings take place within the agreed time blocks. With the right approach, everyone on the team can strike a good work-life balance, which only boosts performance. 

The second pillar is connecting communication. A healthy, hybrid way of working requires genuine communication between all employees. By sincerely listening to what is going on with others, employees can work together more smoothly. Focused working is the third pillar. When the coronavirus crisis hit, many companies suddenly had to ask their employees to work from home, simply taking the same old working methods in the office and applying them to the home environment. Yet, working from home requires a different approach, as the boundary between your work and personal life isn't always clear-cut. That's why it is crucial for everyone in the company to align their way of working with how their brain and environment function. This means employees can work uninterrupted, without being distracted. Companies that fail to take this into account risk seeing a drop in productivity and even a rise in mental health issues. 

The fourth pillar focuses on the future of each individual's work. We all know that the way your employees approach their work influences how successful they are in achieving their goals and ambitions. By changing their way of thinking and learning to see opportunities instead of difficulties, hybrid working can become a catalyst for developing employees' skills further. As we now rely on technology more than ever, the new way of working is an opportunity for you to enhance your staff's digital skills. That brings us to the fifth pillar: healthy habits. If your staff manage to incorporate a number of healthy routines in terms of diet, exercise and rest, you'll soon see that there's a lot for them to gain from hybrid working.

How feasible is it for companies to come up with this policy and implement it themselves?

It's hard to say, because the way a policy like this is implemented can make or break it. You need to fully support your employees as they make the transition. So, many organisations will indeed need the right guidance from proven experts. This is because hybrid work covers a whole range of issues, and no-one wants to take any chances. That's why we have developed the Healthy Hybrid Habits course!

What can organisations expect from this programme?

A series of five workshops where coaches with a proven track record walk you through the different dimensions of hybrid working. For business leaders and HR managers, it's the ideal way to implement hybrid working successfully and sustainably. And for employees, they will get maximum support to make this transition.  Also, did you know that you as an organisation can apply for the employability vouchers from the Flemish Government. Through this scheme, the government will subsidise up to 60% of your project (including hybrid working initiatives), capped at €10,000. The deadline for applying is getting closer, though: companies have until 31 December 2021 to do so.

Ready to successfull​y roll out hybrid working in your organisation?
Find out more here!