Why Scotland's push for the now-mainstream concept of hybrid working is welcome - Emma Newlands

It’s the news many workers, their employers and businesses such as city-centre cafes have been hoping for – the green light from the Scottish Government to move away from guidance to work from home to implementing a hybrid model.

"We know there are many benefits to both employees and employers, and to the economy as a whole, in at least a partial return to the office at this stage,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

As I type this at home within earshot of my washing machine reaching deafening spin cycle peak, I cannot help, but welcome this decision. And I’m not alone – Scottish Financial Enterprise boss Sandy Begbie reacted by saying: “Our members have invested significantly to ensure their workplaces are safe and this change gives them the autonomy to implement the flexible, hybrid working models that work best for them to deliver productivity, innovation, learning and employee well-being.”

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Analysis: Is a 'hybrid' approach of working at the office and at home really the...
Both staff and their employers have cheered the benefits of hybrid working (file image). Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

The working world before lockdown seems like a lifetime ago. Making yourself presentable before commuting to your place of work every day, and occasionally chatting to colleagues around the water cooler, all feels like some kind of quaint anachronism.

It’s no mystery why the millions of people who have since seen their nine-to-five blurred jarringly with their home life, trying to meet deadlines among, say, noisy family members or in the painful silence of chronic solitude, but also slashing their travel time and expense, for example, have realised the benefits of home and office working combined. And survey after survey has backed this up, including a recent poll from tech recruitment firm Burns Sheehan that found 82 per cent of staff preferred a hybrid model.

Even a partial return to offices should breathe much-needed life into the surrounding business eco-system. Russell Borthwick, chief executive at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, noted this, saying the early return of missing footfall “might just avoid further closures and the existential erosion of our high streets”.

The guidance encouraging hybrid working also validates the decision by many firms to revamp their office presence, with property consultancy Knight Frank’s Scottish arm recently saying prime sites remain a hot ticket.

But it has become increasingly clear that for firms to remain current, hybrid working needs to be a key part of their foundations going forward.

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