The pros and cons of hybrid working

Legal expert Clive Rich examines the advantages, disadvantages and even the risks of agreeing to allow employees to work from home a handful of days per week.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have said that over 75% of employers are now offering hybrid working. Hybrid working allows employees to work partly from home and partly in the office. It is currently a favoured method of working, having grown in popularity during the pandemic.

Some employers are analysing the advantages that hybrid working can bring but many don’t understand the significance of this employment model from a legal perspective. To help you decide on what to do regarding hybrid working, we have set out what the advantages are, as well as the legal considerations your business should make before implementing it.

Advantages of hybrid working

If you are running a business which does not rely on regular face-to-face contact, then there are many advantages to hybrid working. These include:

Cost savings

By reducing the physical size of your office space, you can save money on ground rent;

If you own or rent a building you can reduce costs on electricity and other utilities;

You may require less equipment;

There will be a decrease in sundry expenses on items such as tea, coffee, milk, pens, paper etc.

Improved employee wellbeing

Employees who can work remotely from home, for a handful of days each week, will feel less stressed and enjoy a better work-life balance;

Hybrid working allows employees to arrange their lifestyle around their employment hours;

They will spend less time commuting, thus saving money on travel costs, while also creating more free time to spend with family and friends.

Increased efficiency

The office can be a distracting environment, so hybrid working allows employees more time to focus on their work duties;

By knowing which days your employees are travelling to the office, this will help you to plan face-to-face activities such as meetings, brainstorming sessions and team building.

Wider talent pool

Not having your employees in the office five days a week allows you to recruit talent from further afield;

This is because commuting longer distances is more desirable if it’s only required two days a week or perhaps nine days a month.

Legal considerations of hybrid working

There are, however, legal considerations, which must be addressed before implementing any hybrid model. These are:

Confidential information, data protection and intellectual property: Employees must be aware how confidential information should be treated when working from home. Therefore, review your confidential information, data protection and intellectual property clauses.

Equipment: Consider which items of equipment your employees will require to work efficiently from home. Establish a protocol for collecting equipment when an employee leaves the company.

Health and safety: Organise risk assessments for homeworkers and plan how these will be monitored. LawBite provides expert guidance on health and safety for those working from home.

Work hours and breaks: You should distribute the Government’s Working Time Regulations (1999) among employees to ensure they know when to take breaks and book holidays.

Reasonable adjustments: You may need to make reasonable adjustments for any employee with a disability, as covered by the Equality Act (2010). You must consider anyone who falls under the protection of this Act.

Note: There may also be some employees who do not want to work from home, perhaps because of personal circumstances. You should always consider hybrid working on an employee-by-employee basis and assess the best options for each individual.

What needs to be included in your hybrid working regulations?

If you do not already have one, your company should introduce a hybrid working model. This will cover details such as:

– How many days each week your employees should be in the office and how many days can be worked from home?

– What are the expected hours they must work, plus any other rules?

– How will you ensure that health and safety procedures are followed?

– What to do in circumstances when hybrid working is not being carried out efficiently?

– How will you plan to monitor employees’ wellbeing?

– How will you ensure consistency within your company? Everyone must know what others are doing, even if they rarely see their work colleagues face-to-face.

– Who should your employees contact to discuss any concerns?

– Is additional training required before allowing employees to work from home?

– Will homeworking affect expenses?

Remember, hybrid working is not possible for every company or each individual employee. Therefore, test the model by using clearly-defined rules and timelines before committing to any change in employment policy.

Make certain that your employees understand that you may need to change hybrid working arrangements, and therefore you will advise them when necessary, while also explaining the reasons for any changes. Any hybrid working model will evolve with time.

Clive Rich
Clive Rich

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