Hybrid working – is flexibility the future?

The experience of the past couple of years, with many businesses and employees finding there are benefits to working from home, is fuelling increased interest in hybrid working practices. Consequently, flexible working is increasingly becoming a standard part of staff benefit packages.

Although remote working may not be feasible for all jobs, there are a wide range of other flexible working options that firms might consider. These options will help businesses to not only retain existing staff but will also help to attract new talent.

However, businesses looking at hybrid working options must manage flexible practices while considering potential issues, including inclusion, fairness and health and safety.

What is hybrid working?

Hybrid working is a form of flexible working where workers spend some of their time working remotely (usually, but not necessarily, from home) and some in the employer's workspace. Hybrid working can be undertaken in conjunction with other forms of flexible working, including time flexibility. 

Although some workers will have worked remotely prior to March 2020, the extended period of enforced working from home during the global pandemic has led to considerable interest in new ways of working, including hybrid or blended work.

The Flexible Working Taskforce

As part of its involvement in the Flexible Working Taskforce, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has produced practical guidance to support effective hybrid working.

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), says: ‘Our research indicates three quarters of employers will continue to offer hybrid working going forward.

‘This new guidance will help all employers to confidently implement and roll-out hybrid working in a way that is fair and accessible to their workforce.

‘Flexible working makes good business sense and is increasingly becoming a standard part of staff benefit packages. While remote working may not be practical for all job types, the wide range of other flexible working options that firms can consider opens the door to new talent to fuel growth and rebuild our economy.’

The case for hybrid working

Where it is possible, hybrid working can offer benefits to employers and employees alike. Hybrid work can benefit employees through helping them to achieve greater work-life balance, reducing the costs of commuting and providing autonomy about how and where they work.

According to the CIPD, employers can benefit from increased productivity and increased staff engagement and motivation. A significant majority of employees reported that when working from home they are at least as, if not more, productive.

Hybrid work can therefore deliver the benefits of remote working whilst still also allowing for the social and collaborative advantages of working together with colleagues in the workplace. 

Not for everyone

At the same time, it is important to recognise that hybrid working may not work well for everyone. There may be certain roles or tasks that require staff to be co-located to be carried out effectively and some individuals may not want to work remotely for personal or work-based reasons.

Organisations should therefore view hybrid working as one of many possible ways of working – and if hybrid working is not practicable, other forms of flexible working may be, such as time flexibility.

Some key considerations

  • Consider introducing hybrid working as a pilot/trial period, with criteria for measuring and determining success set out. 
  • Prepare people managers and workers for the transition to hybrid working – learning lessons from the recent remote working period whilst recognising the key differences between fully remote and hybrid work.
  • Reflect on cultural readiness for the transition to hybrid working – and identification of possible barriers to success.
  • Review relevant policies, procedures and systems to ensure that they are ready for hybrid work and identify where changes need to be made. 
  • Review the current and potential future equality implications, particularly on groups with protected characteristics.

There are many factors to consider if you are offering employees hybrid working options: these include changes to expense and tax arrangements. Please contact us if you need further information on these matters.