The current vaccine roll out will offer current homeworkers a return to the workplace later this year. But recent research by YouGov and CIPD indicates that most employees want to continue to work from home at least some of the time. This is known as hybrid working. With such a big change on the horizon, what does this mean for your business. And what needs to be in place for this to happen?
It’s understandable that employees want a balance where they can be in the office for some of the week and at home for the remainder. As an employer this has lots of implications. If you choose not to support continued flexible working, you may risk increased employee turnover, reduced employee engagement and limitations on the ability to attract talent in the future. Let’s not even mention the other downside of not enabling employee wellbeing or being inclusive.
Hybrid working will mean a cultural shift
However, if you embrace is, there will be plenty of benefits, namely savings on office space, higher levels of employee job satisfaction and reduced absence rates. There will also need to be a significant culture shift and greater management input, as it will be necessary to put in place supporting policies and procedures associated with this new practice.
In addition, individual employee contracts will need to be looked at and wording changed where it states a contractual location. Plus, employees might need to discuss any implications of homeworking with their landlord, mortgage provider and house insurers. And of course, there you will need to talk about technology, equipment, training, development and performance management.
Communication is key
The Government is currently predicting that employees will be required to work from home wherever possible until at least late June 2021. We suggest you start planning now. A return to the workplace needs to include frequent communication and reassurance about COVID-19 safe measures. There will also need to be provision of ongoing wellbeing support, especially in relation to employees who may be anxious about returning to the workplace or using public transport to commute.
Our advice is to consult with employees individually on plans for returning to the workplace and deal with any questions or concerns. This is a listening exercise where you need to learn more about their experiences of working at home during the last year and understand their specific working preferences in the future. Also bear in mind the impact on those employees who have continued to work in the workplace of more staff invading their previously uncluttered space! In addition, you need to:
- Decide what roles that should be prioritised for return to the workplace.
- Identify any employees who need to continue to work from home in the short term.
- Calculate safe office occupancy levels so you can maintain social distancing.
- Establish and communicate a plan for when employees will work from the office and when they will work from home.
CIPD has developed a return-to-work planner to support plans and is urging businesses to ensure they can meet three key tests before bringing their people back to the workplace. You should ask the following. Is it:
- sufficiently safe?
- mutually agreed?
If you need specialist HR help and assistance to support your employees as they return to the workplace using a hybrid working approach, please get in touch.