For employers that are moving to the hybrid working model, ground rules need to be set for employees who are operating under this new way of working. Below are some tips on how any policy should be structured and what it should contain…..
1. Introduce the concept of hybrid working
Employers can begin their policy by explaining that hybrid working, which is sometimes referred to as “blended working”, is a form of flexible working that allows employees to split their time between attending the workplace and working remotely (typically from home).
The policy can also highlight the benefits of hybrid working for both the employer and workforce. These benefits include:
• helping the workforce to become more agile in the new working environment created by the coronavirus pandemic
• enhancing the employer’s commitment to supporting a positive work-life balance.
2. Define who is eligible for hybrid working
It is important for the policy to set out who is eligible for hybrid working, for example by making it clear which roles are suitable for this way of working.
The employer may have concluded that hybrid working is not suitable for some roles, such as certain sales roles where face-to-face contact and the personal touch are essential. The policy can make this clear and explain the rationale.
The clearer the employer is on which roles are suitable for hybrid working, the less likely it is that there will be disputes with employees over whether they can move to hybrid working.
3. Set out expectations on attending work vs working remotely
The policy should set out clearly the number of days per week employees are generally expected to spend attending the workplace compared with working remotely. For example, it could be that the employer is aiming for a 50/50 split between attending work and working remotely.
However, the policy should also build in a degree of flexibility, with the ratio for each employee ultimately depending on:
• individual circumstances
• the nature of the role
• what is happening within the role and team at any particular time
• the employer’s operational needs, including the space it has available at work locations.
Given the degree of flexibility that hybrid working arrangements provide for employees, the policy can emphasise that the employer expects the workforce to be flexible. This could include requiring staff to attend work in particular circumstances, for example for in-person training and for meetings that their line manager has determined are best conducted in person.
4. Describe the working arrangements for workplace attendance
The policy can set out what arrangements employees can expect when they are attending work, particularly around:
• working patterns, with an emphasis on employees’ working hours (for example if the employee is expected to stick rigidly to regular hours or if flexible start/finish times are allowed)
• workspaces, including an explanation of any hotdesking arrangements.
It is essential that the policy sets out any safe-working measures that are in place, which could include spacing out workstations, compulsory mask-wearing in certain areas, and regular cleaning schedules.
5. Provide guidance on remote working
The policy can provide guidelines on what is expected of employees while they are working remotely. This section of the policy can cover:
• working patterns and maintaining a work-life balance
• sickness absence reporting when working remotely
• technology and equipment provided to assist with remote working
• maintenance of a safe and healthy remote working environment
• data protection, including the practice of good computer security.
This section of the policy can also flag up any financial assistance available, which could include allowances to help employees to pay for internet costs at home, the costs of any additional equipment, and the costs of travelling for days on which they are attending the workplace.
6. Retain the right to request flexible working
Employers need to find a way for their hybrid working model to sit alongside the traditional right to request flexible working. This section could explain:
• what other types of flexible working are available
• that these types of flexible working remain available for employees to request
• what to do if the employee is not eligible for hybrid working but would like to request it.
The employer can stress that it still operates a separate policy on statutory flexible working requests alongside its hybrid working policy.
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