Employees working from home
Hybrid working: employer guidance
Hybrid working is a form of flexible working where staff spend part of their week working from home or remotely with the rest of their working time spent based in the workplace.
Employers can implement hybrid working for their organisation in different ways. For example, some employers might suggest that all staff come into the workplace two or three days a week and spend the other days working from home. These specific days could be set by the employer or left to individuals to determine themselves.
Benefits of hybrid working
Hybrid working can bring together the benefits that staff experience when working from home, such as fewer distractions and increased productivity, and combine these with the advantages of working in a shared location, such as feeling part of a team and collaborating with greater ease.
Advantages that hybrid working can bring include:
- more flexibility as you can develop hybrid working patterns that suit the needs of the business
- increased staff productivity and motivation
- higher levels of trust and engagement, especially if staff are involved in determining their own hybrid working patterns
- increased job satisfaction means you are more likely to retain staff
- attract new talent – many recruits now expect to be offered the opportunity to work from home in some capacity
- more opportunities for collaboration between teams on the days people are in the office together
- helps support inclusion and diversity
- better staff wellbeing with decreased feelings of isolation and improved mental health for staff with more opportunities for social interaction
- better connection between managers and staff as days in the office offer opportunities for face-to-face engagement
- improved work-life balance for staff
- savings on office space and facilities costs
- improved team availability with staff given the flexibility to connect remotely if they can't make a physical meeting
What to consider when introducing hybrid working
To get the maximum benefit from hybrid working, you should examine:
Consider what your organisation’s objectives are and how hybrid working could support you in achieving your targets.
How are your customers’ needs met? Can their requirements be delivered online, or is there a need for physical interaction with customers?
Getting the best out of your staff
Determine the type of hybrid working model that will support staff wellbeing and give them the platform to be motivated and productive in their job. The use of SMART targets that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound will give your staff a clear understanding of what is required of them. In addition, SMART targets enable managers to identify if employees are meeting their targets, and if not, identifying issues at an early stage to provide support staff may need to meet their targets including adjusting the number of days they work in the office, for example, if they need face-to-face support and encouragement. see set business performance targets.
Attracting and retaining staff
You should consider the type of hybrid working that can help you to attract new talent and retain existing staff. Most job applicants like the opportunity to choose to work from home, so offering this as a benefit can give you a competitive advantage in the job market.
Days in the office
Establish why staff are required in the office on certain days and think about what you hope to achieve then. Is it to increase teamwork or collaboration on projects? Is it to maximise staff wellbeing and morale?
Can your business’s operating hours be more flexible? For example, if you have customers in global locations, the remote working element of hybrid working enables you to adapt working hours to benefit customers in different time zones. Being flexible also offers staff the opportunity to determine working hours that best fit their work-life balance.
Flexible working requests
Address your legal requirements, including managing formal requests from staff for hybrid working through a flexible working policy. Employees could also request hybrid working as a reasonable adjustment under disability discrimination legislation.
Data protection duties
Securing sensitive data can be more challenging when employees divide their work time between home and the office. Create a policy outlining how to manage data in the workplace, at home, and when commuting between the two. Provide training to all staff on their data protection responsibilities. Read the Information Commissioner’s Office guidance on data protection and working from home.
Health and safety responsibilities
Employers must ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of their staff when working from home and in the workplace. Employers have a duty of care and must carry out a health and safety risk assessment for all staff.
You will need to ensure staff can access the technology required to work at home, remotely, and in the workplace with minimal technical issues. IT security will also be a priority, as staff will be connecting to your organisation’s systems remotely.
Make your staff aware that they may be able to claim relief for additional household costs if they have to work at home for all or part of the week. See claim tax relief for your job expenses if working from home.
How to introduce hybrid working
When introducing hybrid working, you should take on board the needs of your staff. Take time to engage with staff and their representatives to get their input and effectively communicate your plans with them at each step of the process. This approach will maximise staff buy-in and develop high levels of trust when introducing hybrid working.
Requiring all staff to come into the workplace on set days each week could be counterproductive if staff resent employers stipulating which days they have to be in the workplace. A fixed-day approach also restricts the flexibility that hybrid working offers employers and their workforce. Giving staff the autonomy to select how many days and on which days they come into the office passes responsibility to your workforce. This approach can gain employee buy-in and establish a platform for building trust. It also sets a better work-life balance that could help maximise staff motivation, loyalty, and productivity.
Hybrid working policy
Whichever way you introduce hybrid working, you should communicate your decision clearly to all staff with details on how it works from a practical point of view. For example, you may want to outline scenarios that may impact the hybrid working approach such as when leave such as holidays or sick leave is taken. Ensure you treat all staff fairly when implementing hybrid working. It is good practice to develop a hybrid working policy.
You should be aware that many staff have been working from home full-time for a period due to the coronavirus, so some staff may be anxious about returning to the workplace, if they haven't already done so. Support staff on the return to the workplace and offer training to help employees at all levels in the organisation get the most from hybrid working.
It is a good idea to trial hybrid working; review its progress after a certain period, and then, if required, make changes that will help you maximise the benefits it can bring to your organisation and your staff. Ensure you consult with your employees and their representatives if you make any changes.
Further guidance including a sample policy on hybrid working
You can read further guidance on introducing hybrid working and access a sample hybrid working policy in the Labour Relation Agency’s practical guide to hybrid working.