Bridge HR articles
08 Nov Hybrid Working - 5 Dos and 5 Don'ts
“Hybrid” working is where employees or workers are not based either full time in the office or full time remotely but a mixture of both. It has gained in popularity following the lockdown, when businesses and employees realised that flexible working was a real possibility for far more people than had previously been imagined.
Some organisations have embraced home-working, even closing offices and moving to all employees being based from home. And some have insisted on a full return to office-based working. However, we are finding that more and more organisations are looking to embrace the parts of remote-working that have worked for them, whilst also having a return to office-based working – allowing employees/workers a mixture of the two. This is an attractive option, but not without pitfalls if not carefully planned and thought through.
The reasons why employers are moving to these more flexible arrangements going forwards, can include:
- Work-life balance;
- Saving on office space and equipment;
- Giving employees/workers valued flexibility;
- Increasing diversity;
- Taking advantage of new skills/equipment/IT invested in during the pandemic;
- Ecologically valuable;
- Cost saving, especially on travel costs.
It’s not without some downsides, of course, and does not work for all businesses or even for all parts of all businesses. However, now that so many businesses are looking to take advantage of this new way of working in their business models, there are some important Dos and Don’ts to bear in mind if you intend to roll this out more permanently to a workforce.
- Your Research – is hybrid working right for your company? Do some consultations with the workforce before introducing any final policies – who is in favour and who against, and why?
- Establish a clear policy and update all of your documents to reflect this - for example, changing the employee’s normal place of work is important to reduce having to pay travel expenses;
- Remember that all the existing employment laws remain in place and ensure you are not inadvertently breaking any – discrimination is an obvious one here;
- Prepare your offices – are you moving to smaller office space with “hot desks” or keeping the same basic office structure but with employees having some flexibility about when they attend? Remember that when employees are contractually working from home, that home becomes part of your responsibility and ensure that your risk assessments and other investigations include both work spaces;
- Examine all of your working practices and consider how they will work in a hybrid office. Make sure people are still connecting and look at updating training, especially for managers who are now managing people online.
- Jump in head first – take your time and don’t be pressured.
- Assume one size fits all – this isn’t the case. In particular, younger employees often struggle far more with working from home than older ones. They often have smaller, less comfortable or well-equipped homes; may live alone and find the isolation a real problem; and may struggle without the support of more experienced colleagues on hand;
- Impose what is a contractual change on the workforce without going through a full and fair process – you can end up with claims for constructive unfair dismissal among other things;
- Ignore the question of who supplies what – do you supply a laptop for home use, or does the employee use their own? What about security? Who pays for broadband? Phone? Etc
- Make your employees feel you don’t trust them – but do make sure you have ways to monitor how and what employees are doing in an appropriate way.
For some companies, the shutdown created new ways of working which have been an advantage to the business, helping them to develop in ways they had not previously thought possible, and opening up new opportunities for employees/workers to access. We are here to help you make any changes you want to make in a way that complies with your legal obligations and avoids unexpected pitfalls. Whether you want to bring in changes across the board, or simply embrace more flexibility for those employees it works for, we can help you do so.
Posted by Emma Grace
Throughout her career, Emma has advised on a wide range of employment law issues for both Claimants and Respondents, including representing clients in Tribunals. Emma has a wealth of experience in corporate support matter too and has also undertaken work for the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal