Hybrid working – new guidance from ACAS

During the pandemic many sectors were forced into home working as an emergency measure back at the beginning of 2020. Whilst some enjoyed the benefits of home working others were keen to return to the office. Employers now have the chance to take control of how and when their work force will return to the workplace and what that will look like.

Many people enjoyed the benefits of working from home for the first time such as reduced commuting costs, a better work life balance and more leisure time. For some working from home has led to feelings of isolation and their mental health has suffered as a result. Employers have realised that home working is not for everyone and it is not appropriate in the long term for every business. Employers now need to take the time to consult with their staff to find out what worked and what did not work with home working before they plan how they are going to deal with the next phase of what their workplace will look like.

ACAS has issued new guidance on hybrid working https://www.acas.org.uk/hybrid-working. This guidance focusses on the need for employers to consult with their staff on hybrid working, a simple way of doing this would be to conduct a survey, asking staff what has worked and what did not work during the last 18 months. These results could then be compared to the plans for the business to find what would be the optimal workplace to achieve business results and meet customer expectations.

Employers will need to review contracts of employment; most pre pandemic contracts will make no allowance for remote working. Any agreed changes should be recorded in writing. Employers should also review their staff handbook and their homeworking or flexible working policies. A hybrid working policy could be introduced following the consultation to allow for a flexible and informal alternative to the formal requests of a standard homeworking or flexible working policy. This would give companies the ability to trial the hybrid way of working now we are living without restrictions so that they are able to respond to customer expectations and meet business needs.

When introducing a new policy employers must always be mindful of discrimination and must ensure that they are not placing any employees at a disadvantage due to a protected characteristic.

If you are an employer who wants to be able to finally take control of where and how your staff work then please contact a member of the Employment Team on employment@rowberrymorris.co.uk or by telephone on 0118 951 6621.