Whilst many employers and employees are only too happy to see the end of large scale working from home – and of course for many front line and key workers this was never even an option – many are also taking the opportunity to embed hybrid and flexible working practices.
The government has recently announced that it will consult on allowing flexible working requests to be made from the first day of employment, with no qualifying period required, as is currently the case. Whatever the outcome, it is clear that many traditionally work place based roles will in the future be undertaken in different places, at different times and in different ways.
What are some of the issues that employers should consider?
Technology has enabled many of the changes that we are now seeing in the workplace, however the increased blurring of the lines between home and work can give rise to issues with data security and privacy. Clear policies, clearly communicated are a business’s best first line of defence against breaches or other compliance issues.
The employer’s health and safety obligations remain wherever the employee is carrying out their duties. With remote arrangements and less day to day contact it may require more effort on the part of the employer to ensure the employee’s physical environment and mental wellbeing are suitably monitored.
Communication in general may take more effort if the workplace’s culture and values are to be supported and to enable and inspire collaboration and innovation. This will be particularly important for new starters and juniors who will miss opportunities to learn by observation if teams are no longer working in the same space. Mentoring, support, oversight and management can all be achieved remotely but adjustments will be needed.
Employers should consider whether their standard terms of employment need updating to reflect the new arrangements, and review their policies on confidentiality, monitoring of communications, health and safety and data privacy, amongst others.
ACAS has produced some useful guides on both hybrid and home working.
If it’s time to review your contracts or written policies please contact Katrina Smiles in our commercial team for an initial conversation.