Embracing a post pandemic way of working
Covid-19, with its enforced move to remote working for many, has inevitably resulted in employers considering what their post-pandemic working model might look like. A return to what was in place in March 2020; a fully remote model; or a hybrid of home and office working?
Recent reports indicate that few employers plan to have a 100% remote workforce for the long term, with the majority in favour of a move towards a blended or hybrid working model which would allow working time to be split between the office and home. Both employers and employees can benefit from hybrid working, as it can help bring the best of office and remote work together. Employers can reduce office size, while growing staff numbers and having greater access to talent. Employees can enjoy a greater control of their life, increasing wellbeing through a more personal work life balance. Both can enjoy productivity benefits and a more diverse place to work.
So, what are some of the practical implications you need to consider in order to successfully introduce hybrid working?
1. Homeworking arrangements - Be clear about who will provide and pay for homeworking equipment as well as the ongoing costs of working from home e.g. internet changes, printing, electric? Ensure risks assessments are carried out to protect the H&S of those working at home.
2. Data protection and security - Communicate your homeworking standards clearly, including maintaining confidentiality when working in a shared space (particularly during telephone or video calls) and appropriate storage and destruction of documents if these are printed.
3. Training and knowledge sharing – with the reduction in face-to-face communication it is important to have a structure in place to ensure trainees and less experienced members receive the appropriate training and access to knowledge.
4. Engagement & inclusion - There is much discussion to be had around the challenges of replicating normal office interactions and sustaining workforce engagement and inclusion when working remotely. Communication will be key. Ensure that all team members are clear on how to work together remotely and how and when to interact and keep others updated and make sure there is a fair allocation of work and opportunities.
5. Employee wellbeing - Homeworking can also increase the risks of work-related stress and other mental health issues such as anxiety. In addition, homeworkers may be more prone to loneliness and may feel isolated from their colleagues, which can affect stress levels and mental health. Put procedures in place so you can keep in direct contact with employees working from home and recognise signs of stress as early as possible. Many businesses are piloting new ways of post-pandemic working. There is no one size fits all so it is important to carefully consider what approach is right for your organisation and your people and regularly review what is working well and what needs adjusting.
Organisations have a unique opportunity to reimagine their company culture. Those who embrace these changes are more likely to attract and retain talent have motivated, productive and engaged people, helping the business to flourish.
If you need any support or advice on hybrid working or any other HR issues please get in touch. This article was first published in the June 2021 edition of The Business Exchange Bath and Somerset