What is hybrid working?
Flexible Working. It isn’t a new term and has, for many years, had a place in employment law where it has offered a right for certain employees to request flexible working which the employer can then only refuse on reasonable grounds. To make a flexible working request the employee must have worked for at least 26 weeks for the employer and must not have made any other flexible working requests in the last 12 months. If you are a parent or a carer (there are some further rules as to the age of your children etc), you have a right to make a flexible working request at any time. The employer has a legal responsibility to discuss the request and can only refuse on reasonable grounds although the definition of reasonable is very wide-ranging and includes factors such as costs.
Flexible and remote working have for many years been plagued with antiquated stigma and unlike the Scandinavians, here in the UK it was not a trend which appeared to be very welcomed by many employers whose bums on seats approach saw many of the UK workforce spending a significant proportion of their daily life commuting to and from work. The consequences for many of spending such long hours to and from the office took their toll and workplace stress levels were at an all time high in 2020. According to a recent survey by Perkbox, a shocking 79% of British adults in employment experienced work-related stress last year – 20% higher than in 2018.
Covid-19 has in all its glory (or not) caused a chaos bomb around, literally everything…globally. From long winded lockdowns to collapsing economies and struggling (to say the least) healthcare systems with a devastating death toll in tow, Covid-19 has wreaked absolute havoc throughout the World, and it’s never before seen effects continue to spread like tumbleweed globally. But… there are some silver linings and people’s shift in their perceptions of what is important in life is one of them. This encompasses flexible working and creating a better work/life balance for people going forward, all with the legitimate and purposeful aim of seeking more peace and harmony in their life.
Workers have been working remotely now since March 2020 and many of those have not seen the four walls of their office in the whole of that time. The goal posts as to a return to “normal life” continue to be moved by the government due to the ever changing and frustrating Covid variants which pop up to remind us of this deadly virus and how perhaps life will never be normal again….
So with all this in mind, it is expected that many workers will be resistant to a full return to the office. A survey conducted by Clever in March 2021 shows that 63% of workers now prefer remote working to office working. The top reasons given for this preference are as follows: it saves time by eliminating the commute, it gives increased flexibility, it saves money, they can spend more quality time with the people they live with and they can sleep more. And as Covid refused to go away, they also feel safer.
The term “hybrid working” is currently being thrown around as a solution to the problem of realising the expectations of employers and employees and reaching a happy post pandemic compromise. A flexible working policy is the answer to the problem for employers to address their expectations of their employees. It is a framework that can be replied upon by the employer and businesses may wish to stipulate specific arrangements such as standard work hours, compressed hours, week structure etc. It is anticipated that there will be a big shift in hybrid working because whilst there are many benefits to the employee, there are also benefits to the employer because a happier employee will lead to a more motivated and successful work force with less employee absence. Hybrid working would also potentially save on office space which would be cost effective to the employer.
Your Employer Wellbeing have curated five talks designed to help support your employees as they start their return to the workplace after lockdown. They can be tailored to your organisation by our experts and are available to live stream with a recording provided.
Summaries of the talks can be found here https://bit.ly/2SP2s1M
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