In April 2020, figures released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics showed 49.2% of adults in employment were working from home as a direct result of the social distancing measures introduced by the pandemic.

One year on and like many businesses, we’ve become fully accustomed to working remotely, although we’ll never admit to wearing PJs in working hours!

What we can say is that many of our people have been empowered by the freedom and flexibility remote working has offered, outside of the hustle and bustle of our busy agency dynamic.

Some of the staff we surveyed have been happy to gain back the daily commute time and manage their workloads autonomously, to allow for more time with their children, pursuing hobbies and professional development. Some have even been able to welcome new pets into their home and have enjoyed the lunchtime strolls, whilst accepting the progressive destruction of their furniture.

On the other hand, our people have voiced how much they’ve missed the social element of the job; connecting with people more personally, the laughter, camaraderie, free cereal, having someone else put the kettle on and the Friday drinks trolley.

With lockdown measures beginning to ease and doors to renewed ways of working being opened, we’ve carefully reflected on the past twelve months and have unanimously welcomed a ‘hybrid’ working model.

What is a hybrid working model?

A hybrid model enables employees to work flexibly between the office and home. It is set to become increasingly popular over the coming months, serving as a middle-ground between remote working and full-time office hours as the pandemic subsides. And this model seems to suit UK workers, with research suggesting that 77% of UK employees think that a hybrid model is the best way forward.

At Aire, we understand that our people all have different circumstances outside of work and agree that this model offers the best of both worlds; structure and sociability on one hand and independence and flexibility on the other.

That’s not to say that hybrid working is for everyone and it won’t be without its challenges, but below are just a few of the benefits that have guided our decision.

What are the benefits of a hybrid working model?

Increased Productivity

The age old assumption that employees who work from home are distracted and less productive than those sitting in an office has been demystified.

According to a Radware survey of 260 Senior Executives, remote workers have significantly improved their productivity since working from home. It’s been recognised that the lack of commute, workplace distractions and the freedom to work autonomously can in fact increase efficiency.

Supporting this, over the past twelve months we’ve delivered some brilliant work for some of the biggest brands within the FMCG space, meeting tight deadlines and delighting our clients in the process, mainly from the comfort of our home offices.

Access to a wider pool of talent

Other advantages of hybrid working include the wider net employers are now able to cast, bringing in talent previously unattainable because of location. At Aire, we’re always on the lookout for ‘the right people’ and have hired more than 20 new starters since the pandemic began, in a range of different departments. We expect the hybrid working model to help us continue to attract the best talent in our industry.

A better work-life balance

Work-life balance is a vital aspect of any healthy working environment. A better work-life balance leads to a happy employee and according to a survey conducted by Mom Corps, 62% of working adults agree that flexibility is one of the most important factors they consider when deciding what company to work for. A happy employee is also a loyal employee according to the study, with 79% of working mothers and 77% of working fathers agreeing they would stay with a company longer if it offered flexible work options.

At Aire, we champion the wellbeing of our people and believe that the hybrid working offers a better work-life balance, promoting both wellness and productivity.

Improved collaboration

By now, we’re all exhausted of hearing the dreaded phrase “you’re on mute”. And, whilst technology has enabled us to collaborate virtually during the pandemic, a lack of face-to-face interactions can hinder our working relationships and make us feel isolated at times. Hybrid working offers a mix of remote and face-to-face meetings, helping to negate virtual meeting burnout whilst allowing us to strengthen our personal and professional relationships.

At Aire, we’ve introduced new technologies to help us collaborate during the pandemic — including our virtual whiteboarding platform — but we’re delighted to be back in the office once again, connecting with each other on a more personal level and making things happen!