As the Government’s guidance to work from home draws to a close, workers are not queuing up to get back into the office. Recent evidence published by the Office for National Statistics in June 2021, shows that the majority of those who worked remotely during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic (85%) expect to combine remote and on-site working, often termed hybrid working, in the future. In the context of this shift, it is key that organisations ensure their workers have equitable access to workplace opportunities and rewards and benefits, regardless of where they work.
Our recent joint Work Foundation and Chartered Management Institute survey, published in June 2021, found that the pandemic has prompted many organisations to update, or draft for the first time, their organisational policies around remote working. However, coverage remains ill-defined, with our research suggesting 48% of decisions on who gets to work from home agreed informally between staff and manager. Furthermore, only 31% of managers said their organisations are currently thinking about making workplace perks and benefits available to remote workers, such as gym membership, or childcare credit.
With the prospect of an enduring, large scale shift to hybrid work, now is the time for organisations to assess how goals are set and performance is measured, and whether workplace rewards and benefits require adjusting. This is partly about ensuring those working remotely enjoy as much visibility and recognition for their work as those who are physically present, as well as ensuring that reward packages are tailored to workers’ situations. A meal discount voucher for restaurants in the vicinity of the office is not much of a perk to someone working from home.
It is encouraging to see that a lot of the scepticism that surrounded remote working prior to the pandemic has been countered by the experience of it. However, for the hybrid model to work for both employees and businesses in the long term, it is important that doing a great job is recognised regardless of the location in which the work takes place.
Rebecca Florisson is policy adviser at the Work Foundation