As more people are getting vaccinated, organisations are encouraging their staff to return to the office on a more regular basis – but it’s safe to say that an element of flexible working is here to stay.
For many business owners, the move towards flexible working can offer cheaper options for office space. Offices can become hubs for creativity, social connections and collaboration whilst home-working helps employees manage a better work-life balance.
Here’s a snapshot of what some of the larger organisations are doing:
Asda has made hybrid-working permanent for staff under their “work where it works” approach, encouraging staff to select the best location for them to conduct their daily tasks – this could be from home, head office or a store.
Nationwide revealed its “work anywhere” flexible scheme back in March 2021 for all 13,000 office-based staff and, PWC also announced its “Deal” framework that gives employees the chance to be “empowered” through choosing their working pattern each day.
On the other hand, Google announced that they could cut the salaries for their US employees who choose to work from home permanently.
Many companies have already reviewed their working arrangements and determined the best approach for their staff, some may have closed their offices for good, whilst others have implemented hybrid policies. There is no one-size-fits-all policy.
If you are still reviewing your working arrangement policies, here are a few things to consider:
Types of working arrangements
There are three ways of working. You can have all your teams working fully remotely, have everyone back on-side or consider a hybrid approach (two or three days a week in the office, the rest remote-working).
Take some consideration into what works best for your business operations, as well as the well-being of your employees.
Set clear expectations
When establishing your hybrid policy, assess each role and design of work to find out which work best remotely and who will need to be office-based.
Be clear with your staff on how the arrangement will work and outline when staff must attend the office, i.e. training.
If you implement a new hybrid policy, make it clear that it is not a contractual change and that their place of work is in the office.
Don’t forget your health and safety obligations!
Regardless of whether your staff are working from home or remotely, you must ensure you are undertaking the appropriate risk assessments.
If you need all your staff to return to the office, have open discussions with your employees and explain “why”. Ease concerns by sharing your COVID-secure measures, giving staff notice and considering a phased return.
Look out for your employees
Your decision on working arrangements may be best for business, but a lot will have changed for your staff over the last 18 months, too. They may now have additional caring responsibilities or be in financial difficulties after furlough.
Consider undertaking a survey to assess your staff’s feelings and maintain an open dialogue. Gathering genuine feedback from your team will help you deliver support, both mentally and practically, for individual fears about returning to work.
Look at ways to reinforce your company culture and values and assess if these need to be re-evaluated to reflect your new way of working.
Monitor your staff’s annual leave. Many employees were reluctant to take holiday leave amid the pandemic, so encourage your teams to take time out and look after their mental health and well-being.
Whatever approach you decide to apply, it needs to work for your business. There is no one size fits all. So, do have a plan and be adaptable with your approach.