The global pandemic has seen a multitude of changes to the daily lives of individuals across the world and enforced home working has catapulted the working environment into a virtual and home based reality. Despite initial challenges, many organisations and individuals have seen the benefits of working from home. As such, employers up and down the country are beginning to consider making home working a new norm of the future by introducing home working or hybrid working policies.
Benefits of having a Hybrid Working Policy
In circumstances where employers are looking to introduce hybrid working or “blended working” as a new norm, having a clear policy will enable employees and managers to have a clear understanding as to eligibility and the roles and responsibilities of hybrid workers. Moreover, having a hybrid working policy which clearly sets out who it applies to, avoids any suggestion that permanent homeworking arrangements will be continued indefinitely.
Contents of a Hybrid Working Policy
When drafting a hybrid working policy, employers should give consideration to the following:
- Eligibility: it is important that the policy sets out who is eligible for hybrid working, as it may be suitable for some roles but not others;
- Expectations on Attendance in the Office: the policy should clearly set out the number of days per week employees are generally expected to spend in the office compared to working remotely. The policy should also cover travel expenses/travel time when working in the office; the normal position being a commute is not counted as working time nor is it paid for by the employer;
- Expectations of Office Working: the policy should set out information relating to workspaces available to employees, whether these need to be booked in advance and the process for doing that;
- Expectations around Remote Working: the policy should also clearly set out the expectations of employees when working from home. This can cover technology and equipment being provided by the employer, data protection and confidentiality issues but also health and safety of employees and any financial assistance that may be available for employees e.g. internet costs; and
- Interaction between the Hybrid Working Policy and Request for Flexible Working: the drafting of the policy will need to allow a mechanism to enable the hybrid working policy to work alongside the traditional right to request flexible working provision. In light of this, the hybrid working policy should explain that these types of requests remain open to employees and refer to the appropriate policy.
A hybrid working policy could provide some much required clarity for both employers and employees about the future of their working environment, after having been plunged into the unknown for the past 18 months.
Whilst the above provides some useful pointers for employers to consider when drafting a hybrid working policy and the benefits of having one, employers will also need to consider how to implement the policy. Employers should consult on any hybrid working policy before it is introduced as well as ensuring managers are fully trained to address any issues with hybrid working as and when they arise.
For more information, please contact a member of the Employment Team.