Sarah Whitemore: Why should employers consider hybrid working?

Hybrid working is a form of flexible working that allows employees to split their time between the workplace and working remotely. Under hybrid working arrangements, an employee may have set days when they can work from home with the remaining days in the office, or a more flexible model where the employee chooses which days they spend in the workplace.

Hybrid working can be beneficial for employers as it can facilitate a more efficient use of premises, reduce parking costs and other operating costs, and improve productivity. It can be beneficial for employee morale, as many feel it gives them more flexibility and improves their work-life balance.

Having a hybrid-working policy means emploeyrs can avoid an employee making a formal flexible working request if they don’t wish to work in the workplace full time. The advantage here is that the hybrid working policy can be amended and adapted more readily to deal with the ever-changing pandemic circumstances. In contrast, a flexible-working request will be for a permanent and fixed change to the employee’s contract of employment which can only be made once in any 12-month period and there may be more ability to adapt and respond with a hybrid-working policy as a consequence.

Additionally, a hybrid working policy is one that generally applies to a large group of employees, perhaps a team, department or the whole business rather than being personal to the one individual employee.

As an employer, there are other considerations regarding hybrid working. They will need to assess whether hybrid working is a viable option for their business, whether roles are suitable for homeworking, how time will be split, whether there will be set days working from home and management structure. Also, they will need to be attune to any associated risks of working from home, such as an impact on mental health and fatigue that can arise from employees not being able to “switch off”. A hybrid working policy containing guidelines for managers and employees should be implemented. Expenses, health and safety and IT policies should also be reviewed. Employment contracts may also need to be amended to reflect the change in employee working arrangements.

Sarah Whitemore is employment law partner at Warner Goodman LLP