Business management

Hybrid and flexible working: getting it right in 2022

Flexible forms of working seem here to stay. 

Nearly two years after the pandemic changed working practices, discussions continue around the opportunities and challenges of flexible and hybrid working. As businesses adjust to what is becoming the norm, decision-makers are reviewing their responsibilities and processes to ensure home, office and site workers receive the same opportunities.

The current challenges associated with hybrid and flexible working often relate to the impact of Covid-19. If employees are splitting their time between homeworking and their usual workplace, they may be hesitant about commuting using public transport, and depending on case levels in a particular area, there could be concerns about vaccination status. 

There are also health and safety and well-being considerations. Whether your employee can effectively work remotely may be dependent on the space and facilities available to them, or if they have caring responsibilities. Some people may value the benefits of remote working; others may feel as if they live at work and miss the social contact they usually have with colleagues.

Implementing hybrid and flexible working arrangements requires careful thought. Before setting up revised working arrangements, think carefully about what you are trying to achieve and why. It may be helpful to consider the following:

1. How to lead and manage remote teams

Homeworking can have a profound effect on the physical and mental well-being of individuals. It is essential to maintain regular communication and keep teams focused and motivated. Think about:

  • Devising a regular communications schedule

  • Continually reviewing the situation and assessing workload and demands on individuals and the wider team

  • The emotional impact of isolated working; think about employees who may live on their own and if they would benefit from any additional dialogue

Covid-19 restrictions have increased the pressure on employers to support flexible working, so make sure you get the best out of your teams by supporting this where possible.

2. How technology can utilise collaboration

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 identify the requirement for employers to risk assess the suitability of each employee’s working environment. This includes looking at the work activity being done, the duration of the activity and how can it be done safely. From your assessment, you can then determine if further steps are required to protect the employee.

It’s also essential you provide the correct tools, equipment and software. Training and support with these is crucial to ensuring employees can perform their jobs effectively and efficiently with minimum impact on their well-being.

3. Contractual and policy arrangements

You will need to review employment contracts and make appropriate changes to reflect the new working arrangements, particularly around core hours and requirements for on-site working.

Did you know that your employees may be able to claim relief on their income tax if they work from home? This relief is designed to help cover the cost of additional household bills. They are eligible if they work from home for part or all of the week. The tax relief (from April 2020) currently stands at £6 a week; if employees have incurred more costs than this, they will be required to provide evidence to support any claim. Tax relief is based on the rate at which an individual pays tax – for instance, if the employee pays the basic rate of 20%, and claims £6 per week, they will receive relief of £1.20 a week (20% of £6).

4. How to meet your responsibilities

Developing a homeworking policy and associated guidance is a critical factor in ensuring you meet your responsibilities as an employer. Your policy should clearly set out the responsibilities for all key stakeholders across the business, from employer to employee. Your policy should set out the commitments you have in place for the health, safety and wellbeing of your employees.  The associated guidance will provide more detail in how that will be achieved.

Stress and mental health is proving to be a rising challenge for remote home workers; it would be good practice to consider all existing policies and how these are adapted to meet the needs of homeworkers.

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