Firstly, an apology. If you thought this article related to Line of Duty, it doesn’t.
At the time of writing, we’re a week away from the denouement of a police procedural drama whose quest to reveal the fourth and final H has taken some extraordinary turns.
And although the three Hs we’re referring to are completely unrelated, they will also resonate through British culture for some time to come…
Over the last year, millions of us have accepted working from home as the new normal – in the short-term, at least.
While many employees have embraced the absence of commuting (and lengthy queues for the microwave/toilet/kettle/lift/smoking shelter), others have been less enamoured.
A well-managed office is a hotbed of creativity and brainstorming, allowing relationship-building and collaboration on a level Skype and Slack were never meant to replicate.
Some employees find it difficult to concentrate at home, especially with relatives or housemates coming and going, while the TV is an ever-present distraction.
(Working in an office with comprehensive IT infrastructure can also be more productive than trying to harness a sluggish ADSL connection).
And while few companies appear keen to fully reinstate the nine-to-five Monday-to-Friday office culture later this year, a blended working model is emerging.
This would combine the three Hs referenced in our article title – Home, HQ and Hub.
A Hub could be anywhere from a table in a local coffee shop to a reserved hotel suite.
A good example of a Hub location would be the sort of shared workspace which was growing in popularity pre-COVID, where people reserve a desk or breakout area by the hour.
This is ideal for catching up with team members and clients – more convenient than travelling to a regional or national HQ, but more professional than meeting at your dining table.
The best of all worlds
The biggest benefit of this blended working model is flexibility.
Some people need to meet colleagues regularly; others only have to do so occasionally. Permanent remote working is fine for many professionals, but disadvantageous in certain careers.
By adopting a blended working model, companies can tailor each employee’s working week around the preferences and requirements of both parties.
A typical week might involve several days of home working, followed by a client meeting at a local hub on Thursday afternoon, with an office conference taking up most of Friday.
This can reduce social isolation while creating more free time for staff, provide support where needed and autonomy where desired, and reduce office rental and commuting costs.
In a recent survey by the Scottish Futures Trust, almost 90 per cent of respondents wanted to work from home at least part time, but not necessarily full-time.
In many respects, it’s surprising employers haven’t adopted a blended working model before now.
However, with momentum for change backed by a desire to minimise environmentally damaging crush-hour commuting, HR departments everywhere are preparing to embrace the three Hs.