Hybrid working seems to be the new normal. With a quarter of workers now choosing to work remotely and from the office, we take a look at how you can best manage your workforce and employee expectations.
Working Remotely and In the Office
Hybrid working allows your employees to split their time between working remotely and from the office. For most, this means working from home, but this could also mean working from a shared space, or even the local coffee shop! It doesn’t just stop there… more and more businesses are adopting a much more flexible way of working generally, including a shorter working week, compressed hours or term-time only working. There’s lots of possibilities.
What Are the Advantages?
Hybrid working not only offers more flexibility, but also supports a better work life balance, and contributes to positive mental health and wellbeing. Research has also shown that embracing flexible working pattern increases productivity. It can even help reduce overheads by saving on office space!
What’s the Difference Between Hybrid Working and Flexible Working?
There is no legal requirement to adopt a hybrid working model. It’s up to the employer to develop a practice that works best for the business and staff. There is also no requirement to have a hybrid working policy in place (although we would always recommend this as best practice).
There is an obligation on an employer to consider a request for flexible working if the employee has the necessary qualifying service of 26 weeks. Employees must provide a reason for their request, and give due consideration as to how this might impact your business.
Employers are under a duty to meet with the employee and properly consider the request, needing a good business reason to refuse. A flexible working request can include a request to make a temporary or permanent change to working patterns or location. If the employee isn’t happy with the outcome, they have a legal right to appeal, and must be taken through the appropriate appeal process.
The Government are now also considering, whether the 26 week working requirement should be abolished, and this should in fact, become a day one right. Given the change in working culture, this is not surprising, but no decisions have been made yet.
We have set out below some practical considerations to think about when adopting a hybrid working model, and how best to manage this.
Hybrid Working Policy
Having a policy in place can be a useful management tool and help enforce those necessary boundaries. This can be used to identify when and how often attendance at the office is expected, what is expected from remote workers (including communication guidance), and information about the use of equipment or IT security. You can also set out that all important health and safety information.
Working remotely can often feel isolating, and when things are busy, those employees can sometimes be forgotten. This in turn can impact performance and productivity. Being clear about your expectations from the outset, and ensuring you plan ahead will help to manage this, and keep your employees on track.
This could include an online open door policy, diarising regular one to ones, and holding weekly team meetings by video call. Either way, ensure regular face to face contact is made, so those working remotely do not feel excluded, and that communication is effective.
Having a safe and comfortable working environment is essential to productivity. Think about whether those employees working from home have access to a suitable space to work, and to the equipment they need. Is there anything you need to provide, or any safety checks to be carried out? Is there a requirement for reasonable adjustments?
Managing Your Employees
It’s important to manage staff working remotely, as you normally would if they were in the office full time. Ensure staff have the same opportunities as those in the workplace, and that training and development needs are still being met. This could even include training for line managers on how to effectively manage those who have adopted hybrid working.
Finally, you may wish to consider the approach taken in Tokyo, where a whole new way of working has been adopted for those finding it hard to find their focus and meet deadlines!