What should a hybrid working policy include?
There is no doubt that more of us have opted for a hybrid working pattern since the coronavirus pandemic. Working from home may have been forced upon us when we first went into lockdown, but the majority of the UK’s workforce now couldn’t imagine going back to working in the office full-time.
Many job seekers now presume the offer of hybrid working will be a given, and new research has proven that the majority of employers are offering more flexible working patterns. In this blog, our employment law solicitors look at what this increase in hybrid working means for business owners, and what a hybrid working policy should include.
An increase in hybrid working
According to a recent survey by Acas, 60% of employers have seen an increase in hybrid working for staff compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The survey on British businesses, which was commissioned by YouGov, also found that 52% of employers have seen an increase in their employees working from home full-time.
Is hybrid working a good thing?
From an employee’s perspective, the benefits of hybrid working are obvious: less time spent commuting and a better work-life balance, for example. It’s also been beneficial in a post-Covid world where many people are still hesitant to have the same level of face-to-face interaction with their co-workers as before. But for employers, is it as advantageous?
Many business owners feared that hybrid or home working would lead to staff being less productive and that their customers or clients would feel the impact of a less-focused workforce. Whilst home working doesn’t work for everyone, many employers have been surprised by how successful hybrid working patterns have been for them and their workforce.
In fact, Acas advises that hybrid working can actually help retain staff and increase productivity due to a more balanced working week. And what’s more, having hybrid working on offer helps attract new recruits, too.
As with any other employment agreement, making sure you have the right policies or contracts in place is essential. Not only does having a robust hybrid working policy in place help you as an employer to cover yourselves, should a dispute arise, but it also promotes fairness and consistency amongst staff.
What should a hybrid working policy include?
Before introducing any new initiative or working practice, it’s always beneficial to seek advice from an employment solicitor to ensure both you and your workforce are protected. However, Acas has provided some initial tips for what to consider and include when drafting a hybrid working policy.
Acas’ top tips include:
- Clearly explain and communicate how employees can request hybrid working, how requests will be assessed and decisions made. You may wish to specify whether staff will be required to work a certain amount of days in the office if you aren’t promoting full-time home working.
- Ensure those who are working remotely are kept up-to-date with news and opportunities. It’s easy for home workers to feel excluded or out of touch and they must have access to the same opportunities and information as those who are office-based.
- Think about your assessment of hybrid working requests; is your decision-making process fair and transparent? Are there any alternatives such as flexible hours?
- Make sure that those who choose to work from home, whether some of the time or full-time, have the necessary equipment. This includes ensuring staff have access to a quiet space, with a suitable desk and comfortable chair to work from.
- Make it clear that staff working from home should stick to their contracted hours and not be tempted to work longer hours. This is not only beneficial for employees’ wellbeing and mental health but encourages a positive work-life balance across the business.
A hybrid working policy doesn’t have to be permanent; many employers find it beneficial to have a trial period before committing to a hybrid offering. This not only gives you the chance to see what works and what doesn’t, but provides your workforce with the opportunity to see how hybrid working fits into their lives, e.g. childcare, commuting, and their way of working.
Is hybrid working the same as flexible working?
No, hybrid working and flexible working are different, however, many employers now promote both as a standard offering or benefit.
Hybrid working refers to the flexibility around where an employee works, e.g. at home or in the workplace. Hybrid working can be requested or offered at any point during an employee’s contract, although many employers choose to restrict requests until after staff have completed their probation or have been with the organisation for a certain period.
Flexible working covers working patterns and the finer details such as working hours or days, for example, part-time or condensed hours. All employees have the right to request flexible working; not just parents or carers, however, employees can only ask for a flexible arrangement after 26 weeks of continuous employment with their employer.
Employers can download Acas’ guide to handling flexible working requests here, however, it’s also a good idea to include information on such requests in employees’ contracts or staff handbooks.
Need advice on hybrid working policies?
Whether you’re the owner of a well-established business who is seeking advice on introducing hybrid working, or you’re a start-up wanting to ensure your policies are legally sound, our employment law solicitors are here to help.