by Alan Hickey, Service and Operations Director, Peninsula Ireland
According to the Second Annual National Remote Working Survey, over 95% of workers now favour some form of remote working. Fewer than 5% want a full-time return to the office…
This survey shows that participants favoured working from the office and home, creating a “hybrid” working arrangement that could soon take the spotlight from traditional working norms.
Before making the shift to hybrid working, here are five things employers need to think about.
A hybrid working arrangement may not already be covered under existing policies. So, you will need to actively think about how this arrangement will impact on the effectiveness of existing policies. This new type of working arrangement will likely require the development of a new policy as well as the revision of existing policies. A transition to more hybrid working could impact a range of policies from disciplinary and grievance to IT and employee monitoring.
Where existing staff are concerned, it may be difficult to change their employment contracts without their agreement – depending on what the contracts state about variation. It’s crucial that you check staff contracts before confirming any hybrid working arrangements. A unilateral change to a contract by an employer could lead to a breach of contract claim. For new hires, hybrid working can be incorporated into their contracts, if necessary, from the start of their employment.
Employers have a duty of care to protect the health and wellbeing of staff. As part of this obligation, employers must ensure that the working environment is safe while staff are in the workplace, whether that’s an office or a home workstation.
Hybrid staff should enjoy the same level of health & safety precautions as staff who are fully situated in the workplace. After a challenging year, it’s also important to ensure that all staff receive support for any mental health issues they may be facing. This support should be accessible both in the workplace and at home.
4. Managing teams
It’s important to maintain communication with hybrid staff while they work from home. This can be achieved by holding regular daily/weekly meetings with them either in person or remotely. Most importantly, to determine the arrangement’s effectiveness, staff should be given clear targets to work towards that can be evaluated during these regular meetings.
5. Training and development
Staff and managers should be well-equipped to transition to hybrid working and know what to expect from it. Training is also crucial to promote the successful delivery of their roles from two (or multiple) locations.
While there’s no legal obligation on employers to provide staff with hybrid working options, the Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment recently held a public consultation that will inform the introduction of a legal right of employees to request remote work which is scheduled to come into force later this year.
Similarly, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is seeking the public’s views on how flexible work arrangements could help support work-life balance and develop a more inclusive labour market.
The past year has effectively been a large-scale trial in remote working. As a result, employers will need to engage with this issue over the coming year as both the Government and workers increasingly favour remote and flexible working options. Businesses that want to provide remote work options should ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place to safeguard operations, productivity and employee health and welfare.