4. Cement trust
Trust comes from managers knowing what to do and communicating that knowledge clearly. Understanding that face-to-face and remote working are fundamentally different, will help employers upskill and see what needs addressing. Bear in mind that the pandemic is still with us. Employers should adapt quickly to the changing needs of employees (where practicable). It reinforces [a message] in the employee’s mind that this is an employer with a duty of care towards their workers.
5. Balance productivity versus workload
Assess how effective each employee is when working from different areas. That might be at home, in the office, in a shared workspace or hot-desking. Ensure colleagues don’t struggle with workload in another staff member’s absence. Think twice when something urgent comes up. There might be a situation where two employees are not in the office one morning – who can pick this up? Assert if the task can wait for the absent employee to return to pick up the task, or whether it can be done remotely – don’t pass on additional workloads to employees present at work just because they happen to be available.
6. Encourage regular meetings
Working from home can lead to feelings of alienation for some staff, even if they are broadly happy to be working from home most of the time. The frequency or periodic face-to-face meetings will depend on the individual organisation and their business requirements. There might be a rota in place and certain days to meet might not suit all. It is important employers find points of agreement and are prepared to be flexible and reasonable. A smaller organisation might be able to get everyone together on the same day, once a week where feasible. For employers considering face-to-face meetings, government guidelines should be followed.
7. Rethink the geography
How well are your staff set up to work from home? A key consideration for SMEs is the requirement to invest in equipment that enhances effective homeworking. Staff need to be provided with adequate systems to work with. Inadequate systems lead to frustration, which equals stress, and subsequently an impact on the well-being of the hybrid workforce. So, when you run a health-and-safety assessment for working from home, think about effectiveness as well. Bear in mind also that the onus is on both parties to ensure they’re working safely. The employer needs to run checks, but the employee needs to point out their particular needs and concerns.
8. Be adaptable
An organisation builds a reputation for trust if it responds quickly to employees’ issues. That doesn’t mean having to provide answers instantly, it just means being responsive. If an employee has a set-up where they work from home Tuesday and Thursday, and perhaps for childcare reasons they want to change to Monday and Wednesday, the request shouldn’t disappear down an administrative black hole; the organisation should be able to respond promptly. Where answers aren’t readily available, provide a realistic timetable for that response.
9. Know the new definitions
There’s a difference between flexible working and hybrid working; make sure managers are confident about terminology. Hybrid working is a form of flexible working. The difference between the two is that there is no legal right for employees to request hybrid working; unlike with flexible working, where employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service have a right to make such a request.
10. Do things differently
The sturdy bridge is one that bounces as people walk over it – a brittle one will snap. Find out what your organisation needs to do differently in order to make hybrid working effective, productive and successful for both parties. Introducing team-building exercises, for example, can be good here. Once systems have been agreed review them regularly – don’t set things in stone.