Claire McCartney: How has the government’s decision to prolong home working impacted employers?

It’s unlikely that the government’s decision to prolong home working has had a significant impact on many employers, given that many have indicated they will be introducing a hybrid working model. Research we published in February shows that nearly half of organisations (47%) plan to take steps to enable more home and hybrid working in the next year. We’d therefore urge employers to use this extra time to engage with staff on the best ways to optimise future home and hybrid working arrangements, where the work they do enables this.

Employers could also use the delay to help managers develop their skills in communication, performance management, team building, and collaboration, so they can better meet the demands that come with hybrid working, which are different to those when a workforce is predominantly remote or predominantly office-based.

While hybrid working may improve people’s work-life balance and give them more autonomy, it does bring specific challenges around managing the boundaries between work and home life. Employers should therefore look at their health and wellbeing support to ensure people don’t get drawn into the ‘always on’ culture. For instance, they could encourage boundary setting and routines to improve wellbeing and prevent overwork and develop the skills and culture needed for open conversations about wellbeing.

However, we’d also really like to see employers looking beyond hybrid working, as our research shows less than a third of employers said they were planning to introduce other types of flexible working, like compressed hours and job shares. By focusing so much on just home and hybrid working, we run the risk of creating a two-tier workforce or creating divisions within organisations between those that can work from home and those that can’t, and are potentially afforded little flexibility.

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To promote fairness and inclusion at work, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), through its #FlexFrom1st campaign, is calling on employers to give every employee the day-one right to request flexible working. We would also like to see the government support this through legislation change.

Claire McCartney is a senior resourcing and inclusion adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)