As we transition through the final stage of the Coronavirus roadmap, a majority of employers are starting to bring their employees back to the workplace but also thinking about working models in a different way. “Hybrid working” as well as “flexible working” have been discussed a lot recently and it is worth noting that there is a difference between the two working models. Regardless of a businesses long term strategy in relation to these, employers will have to think about how they bring workers back to the office safely, which may mean staggered working.
We’re going to cover hybrid working in this blog, including how to introduce this working within your business.
So let’s start with “what is hybrid working?” – Hybrid working refers to a work pattern where not all of the workforce (employees) are working there all of the time and will be working partly from home. Depending on the business and business requirements, there will be several different variations of this:
- Different teams will work within the workplace on different days
- All employees working in the workplace, except for specific days
- Varying schedules so employees work different days/hours each week in the office
- Certain employees will work a number of weeks at home and then in the office
Hybrid working is a very flexible model and can be used to help bring employees back to the office safely.
As well as each business having their own requirements, each department will vary as well. There are certain departments that require their employees to be located in the office in order to fulfill the task at hand. So, across the business the feasibility of hybrid working may vary.
“Research collected by the Chartered Institute of personnel and Development (CIPD) indicates that in the UK employers expect their proportion of home workers to double.” – BreatheHR
Why hybrid working?
The vast majority of workers have adopted working from home throughout the pandemic and it has certainly made people think about their previous working models. Employees have identified a number of benefits from working from home, such as: better work-life balance, greater ability to focus with fewer distractions and saved time and cost on commuting. From an employer’s point of view there have also been benefits: savings on office space, higher levels of employee job satisfaction and reduced absence rates. Going forward however, employers will attract and be able to hire from a wider talent pool, as well as being more attractive to jobseekers.
Implementing Hybrid Working
As previously mentioned, the exact form of hybrid working is likely to vary from organisation to organisation and even department, however there are fundamentals in relation to implementing and documenting this.
According to the CIPD, the following are key steps towards introducing hybrid working:
- Agreeing an overall strategic position on hybrid working for the organisation and development of a policy and supporting guidance reflecting the strategy.
- Defining hybrid working with regard to the specific organisational context. This might include several different forms of hybrid working even within one organisation, depending on role requirements.
- Engaging people managers throughout the organisation, providing an opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns, as well as the provision of training and development to support successful hybrid working.
- Development of a communication plan to share plans for future hybrid working with all employees, including information on how to request hybrid working.
- Planning for and responding to the organisational implications of hybrid working on matters such as technology, employee wellbeing, inclusion and facilities.
- Supporting effective team building and cohesion in hybrid teams.
Policies and Procedures
Taking the above into consideration, you may have existing flexible working policies in place that can be adapted or alternatively you may need to create a new one. Either way, it is important when issuing changes or new policies that supporting documentation and guidance is supplied to ensure the business and workforce are fully clear.
The following will assist you in creating a new policy:
- Outline specifically who, including which roles are eligible for hybrid working (it may also be appropriate to explain why these roles are eligible)
- Define the process for requesting hybrid working and how this should be managed between the employee and their line manager
- Review existing policies which could relate to this new policy, e.g IT or data protection
Employers should also review the legal implications of hybrid working, particularly when it comes to employment contracts.
For both implementing but also embracing it, it is important to ensure effective communication is established and maintained.
Your policies and procedures will help outline the clear expectations of hybrid working and what it means for the business. For those that will be operating in a hybrid working model, setting clear methods of communication will be important to keep them part of the team or wider business.
Training and Development
We have all adapted and learnt new ways of working over the past 18 months, including managers managing their teams remotely, however it is still important to consider training and development when implementing hybrid working. The following are areas you may want to consider when it comes to training:
- Managing requests for hybrid working – how employees go about requesting this, ensuring they feel comfortable with a clear understanding of what they are requesting, managers
- Managing remote teams – performance management, team and relationship building when working remotely
It is important that your employees can operate seamlessly between home and the office with little disruption. This may be something you have already worked through during the pandemic, ensuring your teams are well equipped to work remotely.
Are you ready to implement hybrid working?
If you are considering implementing hybrid working, we would recommend taking the following as your 5 key steps to work through:
- Policies and procedures
- Legal implications
- Training and development
Our HR Managers are on-hand to support you through this transition, whether you need support with all of the above areas or perhaps a couple: [email protected] / 01932 485 325.