Planning for a Hybrid Work Future
The lifting of Coronavirus restrictions, so-called ‘Freedom Day’, has brought many of the pandemic’s unanswered questions to a head.
For over a year now, employees all over the country have been working from home. Even though the official advice to work from home no longer applies, many employers have not required a full return to the workplace from their employees. Instead, a working pattern has evolved that has come to be known as hybrid working. Hybrid working involves a combination of working from home and working in the office and offers a natural solution to social distancing concerns.
The Benefits of Hybrid Working
More and more employees are requesting a form of hybrid workforce. Whether it is 3 days in the office and 2 at home, 2 in the office and 3 at home, or any other permutation, employees feel that, over the pandemic, they have proved that hybrid working is productive.
However, the success of hybrid working depends largely on the employer and the value the employer can extract from it. There are three key benefits of hybrid working for employers:
- Employees want it and so by giving employees what they want, employers are creating a positive professional image.
- Happy employees are likely to be more productive, so if hybrid working makes employees happier then employers will benefit.
- Hybrid working reduces the amount of office space required which can help to reduce costs on real estate and bills.
Inevitably though, as with all new workplace innovations, there will be some teething issues.
Potential Issues with Hybrid Working
There are several issues that employers need to navigate in respect of hybrid working:
1. Collaborating in a hybrid working system
Video conferencing platforms are not always good platforms for collaboration. Employees have been reporting issues with Zoom fatigue and there is a growing apathy towards digital meetups. Employers will have to think of new ways to make working from home more engaging.
How will organisations overcome structural issues such as the varying broadband speeds and living arrangements that are available to employees in home offices? Employers must also ensure that they proactively make reasonable adjustments for disabled staff where required, regardless of where they are working.
3. Fairness of treatment
With hybrid working, managers will have to be particularly careful to ensure they give all employees equal access to work, support and opportunities for training, development and promotion, wherever they are located.
4. Complete overhaul of recruitment and training processes
Hybrid working is going to demand a drastic re-thinking of recruitment, onboarding, and training processes. The previous ways of bringing in new talent are going to be less appropriate in a new business environment where employees are in the office half as much as before.
Before the pandemic, 65% of employers offered no form of hybrid working to employees; after the pandemic this is expected to fall to 37%. Hybrid working is here to stay.
The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.