“Hybrid working” - what is it and how do you get it right? - MLP Law

“Hybrid working” – what is it and how do you get it right?

There is no denying that the COVID19 pandemic has drastically changed the way many people work. Much of this was a matter of necessity as employers adapted to “work from home” guidance and took steps to protect their employers and customers from the spread of coronavirus. However, it is now also clear that expectations of […]

“Hybrid working” – what is it and how do you get it right?

There is no denying that the COVID19 pandemic has drastically changed the way many people work. Much of this was a matter of necessity as employers adapted to “work from home” guidance and took steps to protect their employers and customers from the spread of coronavirus.

However, it is now also clear that expectations of “what work looks like” has also shifted, from the perspective of both employees and employers. The answer to this for many employers is “hybrid working”, but what exactly is this and what do employers need to consider before introducing it in their businesses?

We’ve set out below a helpful guide on the concept of “hybrid working”, setting out the key issues for employers to bear in mind when considering adopting a Hybrid Working Policy.

What is hybrid working?

“Hybrid working” generally refers to a scenario where an employee works part of their working hours on-site in the workplace and part of their working hours from home (or another suitable remote location). Hybrid working is sometimes referred to as “agile working”, “blended working” or “split working”.

Hybrid working is not the same as homeworking, which is where an employee works all (or almost all) of their working hours from home (or remotely).

What are the benefits of hybrid working?

Advocates of hybrid working believe it can provide a better work/life balance, enhance productivity and performance and ensure that time spent being physically in the workplace is put to better use.

Are there any negatives?

Naturally, there are also a number of challenges with adopting a hybrid working model. Most of these are surmountable for most employers but, depending on the nature of the work being carried out, can pose a hurdle for others. Frequently cited difficulties often relate to supervision, training, employee engagement and concerns about productivity.

What should my hybrid working model look like?

There is really no restrictions on how a hybrid working model should be applied. Ultimately, it will depend on what the employer is trying to achieve and how a hybrid working arrangement would complement (or not) the work being performed by its employees.

Many employers who have introduced hybrid working have done so on a trial basis, creating a period of review (both ways) to ensure the working arrangement truly works for both employer and employee.

What factors should an employer consider when introducing hybrid working?

Factors which most employers will need to consider when designing a hybrid working model include:

• whether the arrangement should be genuinely flexible (for example with employees deciding upon their working pattern on a weekly/monthly basis) or whether a basic hybrid working pattern should be set (for example setting the specific days on which the employee will attend the workplace and the specific days when they will work remotely);

• whether the arrangements should (or indeed can) apply to all roles, or only specific roles and whether there should be a limit on the number of hybrid workers within the business (or a minimum ratio of hybrid workers to workplace based workers);

• whether a hybrid working arrangement will also include more flexibility around working hours;

• whether to allow the remote working aspect of the hybrid arrangement to be carried out outside of the UK (which can have significant additional legal and practical issues for both the employee and employer);

• whether (and when) there should be mandatory workplace attendance, for example to ensure physical attendance at certain key meetings or events, to carry out certain activities or meet specific customer requirements;

• how training, supervision and performance monitoring can be conducted under a hybrid working arrangement;

• whether the employee has a suitable working environment to enable them to work remotely – the considerations here may be different when considering hybrid working as a long term model rather than an emergency solution during the COVID19 pandemic;

• what (if any) equipment should be provided by the employer to the employee to enable them to work remotely for some of their working hours; and

• whether confidentiality and ether key obligations can be maintained when the employee is working remotely and whether doing so is compatible with any relevant policies of insurance (including the employee’s home insurance).

Do we need a formal Hybrid Working Policy?

Given the number of factors to be covered in any hybrid working arrangement, a formal policy is likely to be essential. That’s not to say that your arrangement won’t evolve over time as a hybrid way of working becomes second nature. However, setting out the general rules and expectations of a hybrid working model will ensure consistency in its application and help minimise the potential for disputes and complaints.

Can you help?

The Employment team at MLP Law is here to help you put in place a hybrid working model which fits your business perfectly. If you would like to discuss in more detail, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0161 926 9969 or employment@mlplaw.co.uk, or follow us on Twitter @HRHeroUK.

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