Hybrid-working is a hot topic; with employers across the UK scrambling to create new policies and implement new work structures which would allow employees to work more flexibly and more efficiently going forward. But whilst hybrid-working undoubtedly has its advantages, there are still potential risks and pitfalls in adopting the wrong policy and going too far away from the traditional office-based model.
In this article, we discuss the safeguards that your business should put in place when adopting a new hybrid-working policy for those employees whose jobs can be carried out from home.
One of the key challenges will be managing performance. Traditionally, this is done through monitoring time spent in the office or through performance review meetings. However, with staff working from home the focus will need to shift to outcome based reviews and other performance indicators.
Another challenge will be maintaining a business presence and building working relationships. Whilst remote working can be highly productive, it can lead to a business losing its identity and the culture built around the in-office experience. Similarly, lines of communication can become stretched between remote workers and workplace comradery can be lost.
One solution would be to mandate a minimum attendance in the office, for example a 2:3 split between office and remote working. Do you go on to specify which days everyone must be in though? This requires finding days that suit everyone. But if you let your team choose their own days, then certain employees may never cross paths. It is safe to say that there is no one size fits all approach.
Perhaps a more subtle issue, is that hybrid-working can make managing health, safety and welfare more difficult. Research has shown that employees are more reluctant to raise issues, such as bullying, that occur outside the workplace or occur virtually. Regular communication and check-ups are key to combatting this and should be mandated.
Even after 15 months of home working, some employees’ home workstations are still quite rudimental. This will be storing up potential repetitive strain and back complaints in the long run. If home working is going to be permanent, employers need to put in place measures to reduce the risk of such complaints occurring.
Likewise, employers must be wary of potential discrimination claims brought by disabled employees who feel they adjustments made for them in the office are not being replicated at home. Again, communication is key and possibly taking legal advice on the matter.
Following the delay to ‘Freedom Day’, employers have been given another four weeks to determine what their respective working practices will be going forward. Whilst there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, all employees’ personal circumstances must be taken into account and support throughout this transition period will be needed.
As always, if you have any questions about the contents of this article, or need further advice about hybrid-working, please do get in touch.