Scottish mid-market firms still facing the challenges of hybrid working

Hybrid working - the future of the office?

NEW RESEARCH from Grant Thornton UK LLP’s latest Business Outlook Tracker has revealed that, prior to the latest work-from-home rules, a hybrid working approach was being adopted by many mid-market firms in Scotland, but that some were still facing challenges with its implementation.

Hybrid and remote working is going to remain the norm for many businesses, with few signs that the legal requirement to work-from-home, which was implemented in Scotland in mid-December, will be relaxed in the short term.

Hybrid working, where people split time between working remotely and in an office, was the most common working practice in early December, with the research finding 94% of Scotland’s mid-market businesses surveyed operating in this manner. Despite this, many were found to still be adapting to the approach.   

The research highlighted that one of the most problematic hybrid working challenges was managing the work of junior staff, with more than a third of respondents (38%) who were adopting hybrid working stating that this was an issue.

Ensuring a high level of staff welfare was equally concerning, with the same number pointing to mental wellbeing issues such as reducing isolation and anxiety levels as being a challenge under the current circumstances.

Given the management difficulties businesses have had to deal with, it’s unsurprising that reduced productivity was another hybrid working obstacle identified by 36% of business leaders taking this approach.

Other challenges causing concern for the Scottish mid-market include the provision of training remotely (34%), having efficient technology to enable hybrid-working (32%) and loss of culture (30%).

Andrew Howie, Managing Partner of Grant Thornton in Scotland commented: “Despite Scotland’s mid-market being mostly well adapted to hybrid-working now, and some starting to reap the benefits in terms of cost savings, a significant number of businesses are still encountering the same few issues they were almost two years ago.

“Hybrid-working needs time and commitment to be truly effective and there is no one size fits all approach. The whole market is on a learning curve to experiment and find the best method that works for them and ensure their people continue to feel connected and supported by their business and their teams, wherever they work.

“To ensure that younger team members are properly supported, it’s essential that expectations are clearly defined throughout the organisation and not subject to ambiguity or confusion. Setting out clear goals and explaining the support that’s available will help businesses to better support their more junior colleagues in a way that achieves greater levels of engagement while helping them start their careers on the right path.

“Moving forward, Scottish businesses need to be open to evolving and challenging themselves as to how their hybrid working approach can be made more effective, such as through investing in new technology that helps teams to communicate and stay connected, and providing additional guidance on how work is organised and co-ordinated.”

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