It is important that employers do some preparatory work before committing to the hybrid working model. This is likely to be done by the HR team, liaising with the senior leadership. The employer must assess whether hybrid working is suitable for the organisation in the long term – from both a practical and business point of view.
This will include carrying out an initial assessment of which roles would or would not be suitable. The nature of the work may mean that it is not possible to carry it out without physically being in the workplace. Other factors to consider include:
- the level of supervision required;
- the amount of collaboration required; and
- whether the role involves the supervision of others.
The employer should consider the extent to which these aspects of the role can be carried out remotely without a negative impact on the business.
If a large proportion of roles within the organisation are assessed as unsuitable for hybrid working, the employer may decide not to go ahead with the model, or to focus on particular sections of the workforce instead.
Another factor to consider is how hybrid working will fit with the culture of the organisation. Obtaining the views of employees will be important when considering this. Managing a mix of remote and workplace-based employees is likely to raise a number of challenges for line managers and the organisation as a whole. It may be necessary to make changes to the organisational approach to employee engagement, performance management and learning and development, for example. The employer should consider whether it will be able to do this successfully.
Employers should also take into account the potential implications for diversity, equality and inclusion for their particular organisation, both positive and negative. For example, hybrid working may allow the organisation to attract a more diverse workforce. It could also present challenges when it comes to creating or maintaining a culture in which all employees feel engaged and included, regardless of their circumstances.
The organisation must be sure that it can manage the data protection and information security risks arising from having employees working remotely. The Information Commissioner’s Office has produced a security checklist for employers to use where employees are accessing and handling personal data when working from home. The employer must be able to provide and support the appropriate software and IT equipment to ensure data security and enable employees to work efficiently.
Take steps to ensure the long-term success of the hybrid working model
Once implemented, a hybrid working model will succeed only if HR and line managers have the skills necessary to support and manage a workforce that is not all working in the same place at the same time. For example, the employer will need to ensure that working practices do not favour employees who are in the workplace, and that employees who work remotely for most of their time are not overlooked for opportunities for development and progression.
The employer will need to provide ongoing training to line managers and ensure that its strategies and policies are suitable for a hybrid workforce. For example, it should review its approach to:
- performance management;
- employee engagement;
- communication; and
- learning and development.
Adapted from an article by Stephen Simpson and Susie Munro
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