Flexible & Hybrid Working

What Is Hybrid Working?

Hybrid working is a type of flexible working where the employee splits their time between the workplace and working remotely. For example, an employee works two days a week in the office, and three days a week from home.

Employers should consider updating and adapting their existing flexible working policy to include hybrid working as a specific category, alternatively, they may wish to introduce a specific hybrid working policy.

It is important to remember that hybrid working cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ solution. While setting up policies, practices, and new ways of working, covers the process part, implementing hybrid working will require consideration of what culture shift may be required in the workplace.

Why Consider a Hybrid Working Model?

A hybrid working model can balance the benefits of working in the workplace and working remotely.

ACAS advises hybrid working can help:

  • Increase productivity
  • Increase job satisfaction
  • Attract and retain a more diverse workplace
  • Improve trust and working relationships

What Do I Need To Consider When Implementing a Hybrid Working Policy?

If a business is considering the introduction of a permanent hybrid working model, consideration should be given to the following:

Employment Contracts

The Employment Rights Act requires employees to have written terms and conditions of employment. One clause in the contract must relate to the place of work for the employee. If hybrid working is to take place, the change to the workplace should be reflected in the employment contract. Employment contracts may already have built-in flexibility for an employee’s place of work, such as a mobility clause. If there isn’t a mobility clause, the employees must be consulted about the proposed change to make them aware of what is proposed and that it will represent a permanent change to their contract of employment.

Any amendments to an employee’s location of work should be reasonable and justified to avoid breaching the implied term of trust and confidence. The change should be recorded in writing.

In addition, there should be clarity about the expectations of whether employees are required to attend the workplace on particular days during the week, whether employees will have flexible working start and finish times, and who is responsible for the fees associated with working from home such as electricity, broadband and calls.

Homeworking Policy

A homeworking policy (or reflecting current policies to include those working from home), should deal with how employees working from home will be supervised, what the best practice for communication with colleagues will be, and how performance will be monitored.

Businesses should ensure that data protection and confidentiality, as well as cyber security, are present in the staff handbook to specifically deal with issues that can occur when working from home such as;

  • Under a hybrid model, staff are more likely to be taking confidential information between the office and home. Instructions must be issued as to the organisational arrangements for the security of confidential information.
  • When laptops are being moved from the business environment, consideration should be given to whether there should be an encryption device installed on the laptop and whether there are additional security measures that are put in place for the movement of paper copies of documents in a secure conveyance which is password protected.

Mandatory data security training should take place to deal with what defines confidential information, the employee’s obligations to keep it secure, and the consequences of non-compliance are essential. It is also important to remind employees about home security, confidential information, keeping passwords safe, and shredding documents securely.

IT and Equipment

It is important to record which equipment is being provided for staff working from home in any hybrid working policy. It is also important to consider who will provide IT services and how they will provide this remotely. Ergonomic furniture should be installed in the home of the worker to ensure that the same standards of health and safety that they would experience at the place of business are maintained at home.

Employee Wellbeing

Businesses owe their employees a duty of care. It is very important to consider both the physical and mental aspects to support employee’s wellbeing whilst they work from home.

Regular online meetings may be the way forward, with team meetings to enable workers to meet online and have catch-up calls to allow for early recognition of stress and isolation. Undertake risk assessments of all work activities carried out by employees working from home. If a business can show that it has actively:

  • considered and managed a risk
  • communicated the risk measures to staff
  • monitored the effectiveness of the preventative measures and
  • adapted procedures to suit new challenges

it will be able to prove that it has taken “reasonable steps” to prevent the foreseeable risk of harm to employees. Employers should continue to deal with flexible working requests within the statutory timeframes and in a reasonable manner.

If your business is considering a change to its current working practices, our highly regarded and friendly People Services team can assist you in implementing a hybrid working policy from initial consideration to full implementation.

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