Your Workforce Post-Covid: Hybrid Working

Hybrid working: the positive from the pandemic?

The pandemic has accelerated the opportunity for hybrid working and has proved to many businesses that employees can be just as efficient when working remotely. The Government recently released proposals to make the request for flexible working an employment right from day one (instead of the current six months) and CIPD research indicates that the majority of workers want to continue with hybrid working in a post-pandemic world. It is clear therefore that remote working is here to stay and employers are encouraged to see this as an opportunity.

Hybrid working: the benefits

The benefits of hybrid working include employees spending less time commuting, leading to a better work-life balance and reducing their carbon footprint; the ability to focus on deep work without the distractions of open plan offices; and flexibility to work around childcare or other obligations. This opens opportunities for individuals to work remotely in roles that previously would not have been available to them, perhaps due to location; lack of flexibility; or a disability, widening opportunities for employees and the talent pool for employers.

Staff working remotely can also be a benefit for the employer. It can be an opportunity to save costs on an office building and it could be worthwhile considering the benefits of downsizing to core meeting rooms and hot desks available for when employees need to come into the office. Remote working can also be an opportunity to improve communication and collaboration between teams from different offices which previously may have been very separate due to location.

Hybrid working: with caution

However, the blending of work and home life can lead to employees over-working and employers need to ensure that they look after their employees’ welfare. With laptops and screens visible within the home, employees may not “switch off” so easily and could end up working longer hours and taking shorter breaks than when working in the office, where natural breaks occur. The unplanned chats with colleagues over a boiling kettle are taken away when working remotely, and if communication and support is not strong enough within teams, employees could become isolated and their mental health could be negatively affected. Employers also need to ensure that they are careful with their surveillance of employees; intrusive monitoring of employee output suggests a lack of trust and could foster a negative culture amongst employees.

Hybrid working: the takeaways

Employers will need to be prepared to optimise employee engagement from a distance whilst simultaneously ensuring their employees’ mental wellbeing is looked after. It will be important for businesses to set out clearly what is expected from employees with a hybrid working policy, and also how to go about requesting hybrid working in a post-pandemic world. Employers should speak with their staff to find out what it is that they want from flexible working, and keep communication lines open, particularly when employees are working remotely. Employers will need to consider if formal contractual changes need to be made to employment contracts and should be mindful of the consequences of doing so.

For more information, please contact Stephen Moore or another member of our Employment team.

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