Hybrid working has been around for some time, but it has become a buzzword since the pandemic. According to a recent YouGov survey, most people would prefer to have a balance with the option to work some of their week remotely and some of it from their workplace – this is the simplest example of a hybrid model.
The reality is: hybrid working is here to stay and whether you choose to fully embrace it or not, employers need to consider and prepare for how employees want to work in the future. Most will likely end up with some form of a hybrid model, so defining how hybrid working is going to work for you is vital.
But what does Hybrid Working even mean?
Whilst there’s no literal definition for Hybrid Working, the overall understanding is that it’s a modern working arrangement where employees operate from different locations including their home. The beauty of a hybrid model however lies in the fact that it means different things to each business. You can create a model that works for your company and for some this will undoubtedly give them a competitive advantage.
What are the advantages of adopting Hybrid Working?
- Reduced operating costs, in terms of buildings, facilities and rates.
- Increases the recruitment pool to attract and retain talent.
- Improves employee health & wellbeing.
What are the risks?
- How will productivity be maintained?
- Can new starters and learning & development be adequately supported?
- Do you have the right IT setup and equipment to support a hybrid model?
- How do you fairly determine working operations for each role or department?
Things to consider before moving to Hybrid Working:
This agile approach to working is proving quite popular with the likes of Google, KPMG, Aviva and more announcing that they are making plans to adopt a hybrid working model. But despite this many employers want their teams to be back in the saddle in the office, including some large well-known brands such as Amazon.
For most businesses, the move to a hybrid working model will require thorough consideration and a shift in usual work practices to be effective, whilst being realistic and understanding that one size does not fit all.
For starters, terms and conditions of employment must be reviewed and the needs of both the company and employee should be considered. If 20 or more employees are affected by the changes, the business will also need to consult their employees as per the statutory consultation regulations.
Some job roles may be more difficult than others to transition to a hybrid working model, whilst some industries and departments may not be able to operate from a remote location at all. Therefore, it’s a good idea to map out a business plan at a senior level followed by the creation of clear guidelines for hybrid working. Developing a hybrid working policy is critical once the internal business processes have taken place and should include:
- Which roles can work in different locations: why, when and where?
- How will processes/performance management operate to include remote environments?
- How to request hybrid working and how these requests are managed?
- How employees can ensure safe and efficient use of space if they do work from another location other than their base office.
- Who will be covering the costs for equipment, insurance, etc?
- Data protection protocols.
Contractual Implications of Hybrid Working
There is a clear difference between flexible working and hybrid working. Flexible working legislation already exists and sets out how employees can request flexible working and how employers consider requests on an individual basis. However, when it comes to hybrid working, implementation can be considered for teams, individuals and separate business units.
If you’re considering implementing hybrid working, this may also be the perfect opportunity to review other work policies and procedures to ensure they are fit for purpose.
Other concerns for businesses looking to move to Hybrid Working:
- Fairness & Equality – Will you be able to offer this new way of working to everyone? And if not, how will this impact morale?
- Working Together – Particularly teams in creative and innovative industries have found that working from home doesn’t always result in the best output. How will you ensure each team member feels considered?
- Not For Everyone – Some employees are lucky to have the space to accommodate working from home or other locations. However, others were forced to make do throughout the pandemic, so it’s important to consider how you will support them in a hybrid model.
- Training – Managers and Team Leaders will likely need upskilling on how to support and manage employees working in a hybrid model.
- Sickness & Time Off – Due to working from home, more people are working whilst they aren’t fit to do so. It’s important to set clear boundaries with employees and ensure they take time off when needed.
- Job Development – How will you remain objective when it comes to promotion opportunities? It’s important not to only reward those on-site/in the office and that development remains fair throughout the company.
What happens if you don’t want to adopt a hybrid working model?
You can implement a full return to the office once safe to do so. However, with more and more businesses seeing the obvious demand for hybrid working, you’ve got to expect employees to start asking you questions about hybrid working. You may also see an increase in staff turnover if you don’t move with the times. Employees and applicants may see a hybrid working environment elsewhere, making it harder to retain existing employees and to attract new talent. It is also likely that you will face more flexible working requests from individuals.
If you would like to discuss how hybrid working could work for you and your business, we can advise on the best way to communicate with your employees, assist with establishing new work practices, policies and contracts. Please get in touch for more information on 01942 727200.