How to manage Flexible working/Hybrid working
During the pandemic, businesses initially had to adapt to workers wanting to work from home and when we went into lockdown, this became a necessity. With life now returning to ‘normal’, we are seeing an increase in requests to work from home whether partially or full time.. Staff enjoy flexible schedules, the ability to work from anywhere, no commute and as a direct result of this, more family time – the ideal work/life balance. By implementing a hybrid model, this can ultimately add value to the business – on average happy employees are 12% more productive than their unhappy counterparts.
Of course, there are areas that need to be considered to manage flexible working now that it’s been absorbed by many companies as a positive way forward. A request from an employee to work remotely is a formal contractual change if their current contract states that their place of work is fully in the office. This would need to be dealt with via the company flexible working policy. Remember that each request is dealt with on a case-by-case basis and that there is no ‘precedent’ by agreeing to one request.
A clear remote working policy
Firstly, although most companies had their own set of policies and processes in place, exceptions were made during the pandemic around flexible working and it’s highly likely that those policies need to be revisited or maybe even written to clearly outline what’s now expected of staff who are working remotely. A successful hybrid-working policy should aim to ensure fairness, collaboration, and productivity, as workers move freely back and forth between the office and their desired remote environments.
The policy should provide the basic outline of the expectations of each role and how it will function in the new way of working. By setting this out clearly, employees will understand what hybrid working will mean for them and where, when, and how they can work. They’ll understand the expectations on how to communicate with and treat each other moving forward.
Secondly, the way in which IT Security is managed should be reviewed. In our previous working world, many people worked in an office at a desk-based PC and most of the time, the IT security protocols served many businesses well with devices, apps and data being inside the closed office server network. Flexible working means users could potentially be storing data in a variety of different cloud storage sites and when requiring remote access into networks, there’s the potential risk of security breaches. Rather than trying to secure your whole network at once, it’s wise to look at individual users and make judgements based on their specific situation. Either allowing or not allowing them access to certain data sets or applications. Of course, what then follows is a clearly defined IT Policy along with a remote working policy being rolled out.
Health and Safety
Employers are still responsible for their employees’ health, safety and wellbeing whether they are in the workplace or working remotely and any employee who works from home has an obligation to keep in regular contact with their manager. They should tell their manager about any physical or mental health and safety risks and any working arrangements that need to change. Similarly, a manager should always keep in contact with their employees and support them to motivate and organise themselves to improve performance and reduce stress and anxiety.
Communication when a team are all in the office is easy to do, but when staff are infrequently in a workplace, additional effort is required to ensure all employees are kept up to date.
Communication is vital in any form of business, but when it comes to hybrid working, the necessity for effective communication is critical. There are fewer face-to-face interactions and poor communication can lead to ineffective team working, exclusion of remote employees, knowledge gaps, and an unhealthy workplace culture. It’s important to organise regular social events and opportunities for human interaction to help with team building and improve the workplace culture.
Staff have clear procedures
If staff are working remotely, it’s beneficial to ensure everyone is clear on procedures. Here are a few examples:
- Save files in a shared space rather than on desktop so that files are easily accessible by other staff/management
- Allow in person or virtual joining to meetings so that key messages and pieces of information are communicated to everybody at the same time and are fully inclusive.
- Where desk space has been reduced because of hybrid working, measure should be in place for booking hot desks so that employers have visibility of who is expected and avoiding situations of not enough workspace for workers to sit at.
It’s a fine balance to not have to micro-manage but allow a level of contact that both parties are comfortable with. If you get it right, the benefits to both employees and employers are vast.
The most vital thing to take away from this is that communication is key for hybrid working to run smoothly.
If you’d like to find out more, or need advice on the above or any other HR advice, contact us today: 01925 626253 | firstname.lastname@example.org