Preparing for Hybrid Working

Hybrid working

A recent study confirmed that since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, around half of employers are anticipating an increase in employee requests for flexible working from home or remotely, for all or part of the time. What are the implications of hybrid working and what do employers need to consider? 

Before the Covid 19 pandemic, a lot of jobs were thought to be office based with little flexibility. Now homeworking is the norm rather than the exception. For some staff this has been beneficial and how they wish to continue working. Many people are still working from home these days, which is why some employers are starting to review the “hybrid” arrangement of working in the office and remotely. 

Here are some legal and practical implications for employers to consider when engaging hybrid workers. 

What Is Hybrid Working?

Hybrid working is where staff split their time between their employer’s workplace and working remotely. Often this will mean spending time working from home. 

Flexible working is a hot topic and can naturally reduce overhead costs. Plus, it might also help attract new talent by enticing them with the idea of flexible hours and locations. Many employees prefer to work from home, which provides more of a work-life balance, reduces commuting time, and allows for caregiving responsibilities. It may be useful for the recruitment and retention of a more diverse and engaged workforce with greater job satisfaction and fewer absences. 

There are also some obstacles for companies. They include maintaining company culture, collaboration, managing and training staff, ensuring inclusivity and protection of health, safety, and mental health. Along with a host of other important issues including data protection, cybersecurity, equipment for staff, and insurance. 

How to Move To Hybrid Working?

If you’re thinking about making the switch to hybrid working, remember that each person is different and will work differently. Take an open mind and consider your company culture, a form of communication and how homeworking has been carried out previously in the organisation during lockdowns. 

How have you managed supervision, wellbeing, culture and meeting the business needs? Do you know what your customers’ wants and needs are? A staff survey can help you consult with employees to find out. Consider the following: 

  • Core times for employees to work together. 
  • Should teams meet up in person? If team members are feeling lonely, it might be time for a meeting.  
  • How teams could communicate (if not already mastered). 
  • Incentives for bringing staff back into the office; and 
  • What technology you will need to get or keep utilising more in this model. 

It’s important for all staff members to feel included. Create a vision of how the work-life balance will be achieved that all managers can stand behind, including yourself. You should try to make everyone feel included and welcome no matter their role in the company. This will make everyone happy and productive rather than working completely burnt out trying to meet high demands. It’ll also make your employees much more engaged. Encourage them to take charge when they’re at work and promote work-life balance. Try to create teams to divide up the workload. 

Do You Need A New Hybrid Working Policy?

It will be beneficial for employers to have a well-drafted hybrid working policy to help manage expectations, avoid misunderstandings and potential conflicts. Points to include in a policy could be the employer’s commitment to hybrid working, the eligibility of staff for it (some roles may be more suitable than others), what is the split between homeworking and at the office, office arrangements (such as booking a hot desk), and when working away from company premises certain practicalities such as confidentiality and data protection. 

You might have to review your other policies, including IT, data protection, and expenses for hybrid working arrangements. 

Managing Staff Through Hybrid Working

Hybrid working brings all sorts of new ways for staff management. Managers might need to get better at managing skills to ensure good communication, performance management, building teams and working in collaboration. Along with guidance on ensuring inclusion and diversity, effective induction, and staff engagement. 

Not being able to see someone’s performance at work from a physical location can make a job a lot more difficult. Managers may need to focus more on objectives and outcomes and adjust their appraisals accordingly. At the outset of the pandemic, there were initial concerns about productivity at home, which seems to have been generally misplaced. Although, if there is a genuine performance management issue then it should be dealt with fairly and not be put to one side, which may be a risk if contact with employees is more limited. 

Workplace Wellbeing

Employers should still take care of their employees even when they are working from home. They must comply with their common law duty of care and statutory duties to provide a safe place of work. If employers are establishing more permanent working arrangements, then it’s likely you will need to review your health and safety policies to stay in line with the new business setup.  

Hybrid working can lead to increased stress points for employees. Along with that, the boundaries between work and home life become blurred and it is possible that good habits from other aspects of life just don’t take root at work. A recently published report studied the people who work from home during COVID-19 and found that around half of all employees work over their normal working hours for this. The document urges the introduction of a law that prohibits employers from making employees work outside contracted office hours. Whether or not this becomes UK law, employers should ensure homeworking staff are taking adequate rest breaks and managers are proactively identifying if staff are experiencing difficulties. 

If you would like to chat about how to prepare for Hybrid Working, get in touch with our IT experts.

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