Employees working from home

Hybrid working - employer guidance

Guide

Hybrid working is a form of flexible working where staff spend part of their week working from home or remotely with the rest of their working time spent based in the workplace.

Employers can implement hybrid working for their organisation in different ways. For example, some employers might suggest that all staff come into the workplace two or three days a week and spend the other days working from home. These specific days could be set by the employer or left to individuals to determine themselves.

Benefits of hybrid working

Hybrid working can bring together the benefits that staff experience when working from home, such as fewer distractions and increased productivity, and combine these with the advantages of working in a shared location, such as feeling part of a team and collaborating with greater ease.

Advantages that hybrid working can bring include:

  • more flexibility as you can develop hybrid working patterns that suit the needs of the business
  • increased staff productivity and motivation
  • higher levels of trust and engagement, especially if staff are involved in determining their own hybrid working patterns
  • increased job satisfaction means you are more likely to retain staff
  • attract new talent – many recruits now expect to be offered the opportunity to work from home in some capacity
  • more opportunities for collaboration between teams on the days people are in the office together
  • helps support inclusion and diversity
  • better staff wellbeing with decreased feelings of isolation and improved mental health for staff with more opportunities for social interaction
  • better connection between managers and staff as days in the office offer opportunities for face-to-face engagement
  • improved work-life balance for staff
  • savings on office space and facilities costs

What to consider when introducing hybrid working

To get the maximum benefit from hybrid working, you should examine:

  • Organisation goals – consider what your organisation’s objectives are and how hybrid working could support you to achieve your targets.
  • Customer needs – how are your customers’ needs met? Can their requirements be delivered online, or is there a need for physical interaction with customers?
  • Getting the best out of your staff – determine the type of hybrid working model that will support staff wellbeing and give them the platform to be motivated and productive in their
  • Attracting and retaining staff – you should consider the type of hybrid working that can help you to attract new talent and retain existing staff. Most job applicants like the opportunity to choose to work from home, so offering this as a benefit can give you a competitive advantage in the job market.
  • Days in the office – establish why staff are required in the office on certain days and think about what you hope to achieve then. Is it to increase teamwork or collaboration on projects? Is it to maximise staff wellbeing and morale?
  • Working hours – can your business’s operating hours be more flexible? For example, if you have customers in global locations, the remote working element of hybrid working enables you to adapt working hours to benefit customers in different time zones. Being flexible also offers staff the opportunity to determine working hours that best fit their work-life balance.
  • Flexible working requests – address your legal requirements, including managing formal requests from staff for hybrid working through a flexible working policy. Employees could also request hybrid working as a reasonable adjustment under disability discrimination legislation.
  • Data protection duties – securing sensitive data can be more challenging when employees divide their work time between home and the office. Create a policy outlining how to manage data in the workplace, at home and when commuting between the two. Provide training to all staff on their data protection responsibilities. Read the Information Commissioner’s Office guidance on data protection and working from home.
  • Health and safety responsibilities – employers must ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their staff when working from home and in the workplace. Employers have a duty of care and must carry out a health and safety risk assessment for all staff.
  • IT requirements – you will need to ensure staff can access the technology required to work at home, remotely, and in the workplace with minimal technical issues. IT security will also be a priority, as staff will be connecting to your organisation’s systems remotely.

How to introduce hybrid working

When introducing hybrid working, you should take on board the needs of your staff. Take time to engage with staff and their representatives to get their input and effectively communicate your plans with them at each step of the process. This approach will maximise staff buy-in and develop high levels of trust when introducing hybrid working.

Requiring all staff to come into the workplace on set days each week could be counterproductive as staff may resent employers stipulating which days they have to be in the workplace. A fixed days approach also restricts the flexibility that hybrid working offers employers and their workforce. Giving staff the autonomy to select how many days and on which days they come into the office passes responsibility to your workforce. This approach can gain employee buy-in and establishes a platform for building trust. It also sets a better work-life balance that could help maximise staff motivation and productivity.

Whichever way you introduce hybrid working, you should communicate your decision and ensure you treat all staff fairly when implementing it. It is good practice to develop a hybrid working policy.

You should be aware that many staff have been working from home full-time for a period due to the coronavirus, so some staff may be anxious about returning to the workplace. Support staff on the return to the workplace and offer training to help employees at all levels in the organisation get the most from hybrid working.

It is a good idea to trial hybrid working; review its progress after a certain period, and then, if required, make changes that will help you maximise the benefits it can bring to your organisation and your staff. Ensure you consult with your employees and their representatives if you make any changes.

Further guidance including a sample policy on hybrid working

You can read further guidance on introducing hybrid working and access a sample hybrid working policy in the Labour Relation Agency’s practical guide to hybrid working.

Read the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development guidance on planning for hybrid working.