Hybrid working – what does it mean and what do employers need to consider?

Claire Watt, Managing Director at Ditton HR examines the way in which Covid has changed the way that people work and the benefits of introducing a hybrid working policy.

Covid has changed the way that people all over the world work. The sudden move to home working, for many of us, worked out well. We found that after an initial period of adjustment, there were some benefits to be had for all.

Even now, it still remains to be seen how permanent these changes will be. There’s been a lot of back and forth from some of the world’s biggest companies. Smaller businesses are likely to follow suit. But perhaps this change to home or hybrid working has worked well for you, and you’ve already made the decision to stick with it. Maybe you’re still making your mind up. Whatever the situation for your business, one thing is clear: we need to consider things differently now.

We’re hearing loads of new terms surrounding the way we work. The hybrid team is one of them. Simply put, it means a team that is splitting its time working between both an office location and remotely. That could mean you have some people working full time in the office and some full time at home, or maybe people who come in for a day or two a week and work the rest from home… Basically, whatever the split, if you have people doing both, you now have a hybrid team.

When you have a hybrid team, some things will need to change. And not just the amount of time you spend on video calls!

Create a hybrid working policy

The first thing you’ll need to do is create a policy around hybrid working. Set out exactly what is expected of your hybrid workers. For example, will they be required to spend a minimum number of hours in the office? Can they pick and choose when and where they work from, when they feel like it? And how will you manage requests for hybrid work? Will everyone have the same opportunity or are there roles that need to have a physical presence?

There’s a lot you need to consider, and a lot that needs to be communicated to your team about this. By setting out a formal policy you leave nobody in any doubt over what’s expected of them.

Health and safety

Employers must conduct a risk assessment of their employees’ working environment.  If you are not able to carry out a full risk assessment at their home, you should provide employees with information on working safely at home. This could include asking them to carry out a self-assessment of their workspace and equipment. If changes are needed employers are responsible for ensuring they happen.  Also ensure that your insurance and  the  employee’s insurance/landlord/mortgage provider covers employees working from home.

Mental well-being

Working from home might increase stress or anxiety and feelings of isolation and loneliness.  You should think about how to support your employees’ mental health and wellbeing and ensure you talk to them about any problems they might be having. Things to consider include when team meetings and 121s will happen, how they can get help for IT issues and what is expected of them. The more clarity you can provide, the less stressful it will be.

Work-life balance

When working from home, people can find it harder to separate work and home life and switch off at the end of the day or at the weekend.  Employers should ensure that people know what hours of work are expected of them, to try and have a separate working area (or ensure that work equipment is switched off or put away at the end of the day) and take regular breaks.

Sickness absence

Employees who work from home can feel pressure to work while ill and you should encourage them to take sick leave at this time so that they can fully recover.

Managing remote workers

You should ensure your managers are trained in how to manage hybrid teams and ensure good communication, support and performance wherever their team is located.

Need  some expert HR advice? Simply contact Ditton HR to arrange a free no-obligation consultation at info@dittonhr.co.uk. Ditton HR also run a ‘hybrid working’ workshop for managers.