Despite easing COVID-19 restrictions, hybrid working seems to be here to stay. It’s now estimated that 40% of UK workers are splitting their time between the office and the home.
You need clear policies and guidelines if you run a business and are considering a hybrid work model. Developing a hybrid working policy will help your employees be more productive, give them the support they need, and ensure you meet your legal obligations as an employer. This article explains what you should include in a hybrid working policy.
What is a Hybrid Work Model?
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost half of all UK adults reported that they were employed under a hybrid work model, according to reports from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). These numbers have decreased, but significant numbers of hybrid working people remain.
So, what is hybrid working exactly? Simply put, hybrid working involves splitting your time between your workplace and working remotely. You might spend three days in an office and two days a week working from home, for example.
While most employers were compelled to adopt a hybrid work model during the COVID-19 lockdowns, hybrid working has existed for a while. Technological advances like ethernet and Wi-Fi were responsible for a continuous rise in hybrid working since the early 2000s. Only 1.5% of people worked from home in 1981. By 2019, this figure had tripled to 4.7%.
The hybrid work model isn’t going away any time soon. Over half of UK workers surveyed preferred hybrid working to traditional models. Suppose you run a business and want to attract and keep talented staff. In that case, you must develop an excellent hybrid working policy.
Is a Hybrid Working Policy Required by Law?
Strictly speaking, as an employer, you’re not required by UK law to have a hybrid working policy. But all UK employees have the right to ask for flexible working conditions. Flexible working can include job sharing, reducing hours to part-time, working the same hours over fewer days, staggered hours, flexitime and other models. As you might guess, hybrid working also falls under the category of flexible working.
An employer isn’t compelled to grant an employee request for flexible working conditions. But refusing such a request can be time-consuming. An employer must consider all requests in a ‘reasonable manner’ and give detailed reasons why they rejected the proposal.
An employee can appeal a rejection at an employment tribunal. This is all detailed under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Offering a hybrid work model will help to keep your employees happy and cut down on your overheads. A hybrid working policy will help to avoid issues and allow you to manage your people more effectively.
What to Include in a Hybrid Working Policy
The GDPR applies to all data that contains personal information. Personal information includes a person’s name, date of birth, address, email address, banking details and any type of health, biometric or genetic information.
A policy should provide employees with all the information they need to do their roles effectively. A well-written policy should:
- Ensure employees understand what is expected of them
- Detail who is eligible for hybrid working
- Provide information on technology and digital tools
- Explain the legal rights and obligations of hybrid workers
- Develop hybrid working health and safety procedures
- Provide training for hybrid workers
Develop Hybrid Working Procedures
Your hybrid working policy must detail a range of procedures employees must abide by. These procedures will let the employees know what is expected of them.
Procedures should cover the following:
- Amount of time hybrid-working is allowed –For example, 60% or 40% of their working week. Detail must be provided on whether meetings or training sessions can be attended remotely or if employees must turn up in person. Some employers restrict where an employee can work remotely. You may want your employees to work solely within the UK, for example.
- Performance Management – You must also detail your intended performance management model. Will employees need to use tracking software? Will they be expected to meet a certain number of hours daily or complete the tasks allocated to them?
- Communication – Communication channels must be established so employees know whom to turn to if they have a problem. Digital tools like Zoom, Slack or Microsoft Teams will allow employees to constantly contact each other and their supervisors. You may wish to set strict times when colleagues can be reached. For example, ensure that emails or chat questions are only answered from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Set Eligibility Criteria for Hybrid Working
Managing the expectations of your employees is vital when setting up your hybrid work model. It may be that not every employee can work remotely. You’ll need to clearly define the eligibility criteria and provide reasoning as to why some employees may be excluded from hybrid-working.
Some employees may be needed on-site for face-to-face roles, and some may not be allowed to work remotely for regulatory reasons. You’ll avoid disputes and tension by outlining who is eligible for hybrid working and who is not.
List Necessary Technology and Tools
Hybrid working is only possible with the use of technology and digital tools. As a business owner, you’ll have to decide whether you provide your people with the tech they need or whether they can use their personal setups.
If you allow your employees to use their personal computers, you’ll have to ensure that business data is secure and that the computers are powerful enough to handle any specialised work software.
Consider the Legal Aspects of Hybrid Working
There are various legal considerations when setting up a hybrid working policy. The wording of your employees’ contracts may need to be changed. Place of work clauses and how holidays, absences and sick leave are requested or allocated, for example. Suppose you do make any amendments to your employees’ contracts. In that case, they must be approved by a legal professional and signed off by the employees.
The technology and IT equipment that makes hybrid working possible also have legal implications. You’ll have to put in place procedures to ensure that your people abide by the EU and UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). There may also be legal issues with moving sensitive physical documents from the workplace to another location.
Develop Health and Safety Procedures
Hybrid working isn’t without its risks. Employers still have a legal duty to ensure the workplace is safe, whether at home or in the office.
Work areas must be ergonomically optimised to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal conditions or eye strain. Remote working can also impact a person’s mental health, so employers must ensure their people have adequate support.
The best way to ensure hybrid workers are safe is to have them conduct a risk assessment for working from home. To do this in compliance with the law, your people may need to complete a training course.
Health and Safety Training for Hybrid Workers
Completing a working-from-home training course is an excellent way for your team to learn how to set up their workstations correctly. An ergonomically set up workspace will minimise the risks posed by working with display screen equipment (DSE) for long periods.
Our Working from Home Training will teach your team everything they need to know about setting up a home office. You can make sure your team stay safe and meet your legal obligations. It’s ideal for any business owner developing a hybrid-work model.