• How to plan for successful hybrid working

    Published: December 21 2021

    The CIPD on behalf of the government’s flexible working taskforce have published practical new guidance on hybrid working, which since the pandemic hit, has quickly become a favoured type of flexible working.

    Topics covered within the guidance include people management, recruitment and induction, inclusion and fairness, along with health, safety and wellbeing.

    In this article we look at some of the key points covered in the guidance in addition to our top tips if you’re looking to implement formal hybrid working practices within your organisation.

    What is hybrid working?

    Hybrid working is a form of flexible working. Flexible working is an umbrella term given to any type of flexibility within how work is performed – this could be working times, places, and hours. Hybrid working is the flexibility in location of where the work is completed. This could be at home, in the workplace, or even abroad.

    Hybrid working model

    If you are looking to  implement hybrid working, the first step is to define what it means to your organisation.

    You should take into account many organisational factors, such as organisational or strategic goals. It may also be helpful to engage your employees in this process to create a robust and inclusive flexible working policy.

    Key areas of consideration are:

    • Clearly defined policies and procedures which include, eligibility criteria, application processes, responsibilities and expectations
    • Whether you include trial periods
    • Will the change be contractual or a local level agreement with all or individual employees?
    • How will you measure the efficiency of hybrid working moving forward to ensure it is right for the business?
    • Preparing and supporting your managers in moving to remote management
    • Identify any barriers to success
    • Equality implications

    People management

    For hybrid working to be a success, managers need to not only support their employees, but also be supported by the organisation.

    Employers should:

    • Provide training on assessing and managing hybrid working requests fairly and consistently
    • Raise awareness of the benefits
    • Develop people managers’ skill sets in areas such as communication, performance management, collaboration, inclusion and wellbeing
    • Provide training in flexible working job designs

    Recruitment and induction

    In what is possibly the largest and most accelerated work culture shift for a generation, hybrid working is undoubtedly here to stay.

    Although it may not be possible for all roles in every organisation, for those who can offer it,  hybrid working may be a key driver in talent attraction and retention.

    To help utilise the desire for hybrid working to attract talent in the recruitment and selection process, you may wish to:

    • Specify hybrid working opportunities in job adverts.
    • Provide candidates with clear information on your hybrid working arrangements during the recruitment process.
    • Provide guidance for recruiting managers so that they are able to discuss hybrid work options along with other types of flexible working during the recruitment and selection process.
    • Allow for both face-to-face and virtual elements within the recruitment and selection process to assess desirable skills required for hybrid working.
    • Ensure inductions are suitably tailored for hybrid workers.

    Inductions have always been the cornerstone of assimilating a new employee into any business. With the increase in hybrid working, a robust induction programme will be invaluable.

    It is important to consider that with less time spent in the office around a team, it may take longer for new starters to understand an organisation’s culture, and build rapport with teammates. Learning opportunities that arise naturally in an office environment may also be reduced.

    It is advisable to consider ways to try and address these issues. You may wish to give  particular focus to supporting those with little or no experience of remote working, such as those new to the world of work.

    Inclusion and fairness

    When developing and implementing hybrid working policies it is important to do so with a concern for inclusion, equality, and fairness.

    Whilst hybrid working is definitely here to stay, that does not mean it right for everyone, for a multitude of reasons.

    Hybrid working has  the potential to increase inclusion, opening job opportunities to those for whom without hybrid working would be unable to join the candidate pool. On the other hand, some research has shown that remote work can have consequences for those who frequent the workplace less, such as reducing opportunities for promotion and bonuses.

    An example of this is that women still provide the majority of childcare and are generally more likely than their male counterparts to request any form of flexible working to allow them to complete the primary caregiver role. Promoting flexible working practices may provide more parents with the opportunity to share childcaring responsibilities and reduce any potential stigma surrounding the uptake of flexible working initiatives.

    To ensure hybrid working practices are inclusive and fair, you should consider:

    • Having clear and transparent policies and procedures.
    • Acknowledging the benefits for hybrid workers with long term health conditions and caring responsibilities, as well as disabled workers.
    • Ensuring reasonable adjustments are provided regardless of flexible working status and recognise that whist it can be a reasonable adjustment, not all will want to work remotely.
    • Establishing systems to monitor the ongoing impact of hybrid work on people processes.
    • Actively promoting and improving access to other forms of flexible workers who are unable to undertake hybrid work due to the nature of their role or personal circumstances.
    • Being prepared to have flexibility within your approach to hybrid working. Blanket policies may inadvertently disadvantage some groups and even amount to discrimination.

    Health, safety and wellbeing

    Hybrid working may also present additional health and safety challenges, including:

    • The ability to ensure workers have a safe working environment
    • The potential for poor homeworking environment or ergonomics
    • Digital presenteeism
    • Work life balance difficulties
    • Isolation from colleagues

    To reduce the risks to employees health, safety and wellbeing, you  should:

    • Provide training to people managers in wellbeing and mental health, including how to have wellbeing conversations.
    • Provide advice and training on managing work life balance, establishing boundaries and digital wellbeing.
    • Set up systems to conduct risk assessments for remote working alongside health and safety representatives.
    • Reviewing policies and ways of working to ensure they do not inadvertently encourage or reward presenteeism.

    In a nutshell

    Whilst hybrid working can be a positive experience for both employee and employer, organisations need to adapt quickly to ensure that the experience does not lose its positives.

    Most of us have been hybrid or remote working on a largely unprecedented ad hoc basis since the pandemic hit. We would recommend that now is a good time to regroup and ensure that your hybrid working policies and practices are fit for purpose.

    The key takeaways are:

    • Ensure you have the right training in place to ensure your staff have the correct skillsets.
    • Transparent policies and procedures will help ensure understanding and clarity for all employees.
    • Implement robust monitoring systems, including feedback, to ensure your model is fit for purpose.
    • Continuous improvement practices will help to address any negative or unintended outcomes for your staff or business.

    Further support

    If you require support on any of the issues covered in this article, please get in touch today via the contact form on this page to discuss how we can help.

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