According to research by Accenture, 83% of workers prefer a hybrid work model. However, a variety of factors influence their ability to thrive under this model, whether they’re onsite or off. Irrespective of market trends and conditions, the role of HR as an advocate for the health and safety of employees remains constant; HR teams must therefore acquire the ability to ensure maintenance of employee wellbeing and give their workforce the resources they need to remain productive wherever they are primarily based.
Why a hybrid working policy is important
When a hybrid work model is properly planned and executed it offers the chance for employees to thrive and work optimally, as well as:
· Improves employee wellbeing
Providing employees with the option of both home and office-based working permits them greater opportunities for a healthy work-life balance, given less commuting and the flexibility that remote work provides. The trust assumed to allow employees to work remotely and to make their own choices, also feeds their sense of control and autonomy, allowing them to flourish.
· Boosts talent attraction and retention
Where status and remuneration were once the primary motivators for office-based employees, work environment, wellbeing, and work-life balance have become increasingly important. When considering a prospective employer, an organisation’s flexible work policy and workplace wellbeing programmes are considered by employees.
· Increases productivity
Remote working allows greater productivity due to reduced commutes, fewer office distractions and flexible hours allowing for natural peaks and troughs in energy and concentration levels, while retaining some office contact means continuity of management and peer-to-peer contact, from casual discussion to organised collaboration on projects.
· Saves on office space
Fewer employees in the office at any given time means the opportunity to downsize premises, which offers a cost-saving to the business (if part of a well-organised hybrid working policy).
· Higher levels of employee job satisfaction
Offering a hybrid working model means employees not only get the chance to work better and more happily, but do so with the added understanding that they’re trusted to work autonomously and without micro-management, or without the pressures of presenteeism.
· Reduced absence rates
Feeling under the weather, while possibly a restriction for office-based work, including but not limited to the desire not to spread infection among other employees, means a likely reduction in absences. Burnout is also less likely when employees are able to conduct at least some of their work from home.
How to create an effective flexible work policy
A focus on employee health and wellbeing requires flexibility and an effective hybrid work policy that is responsive and fluid to changing needs and has the ability to bridge the gap between remote and on-site employees. According to a survey by Gartner, 49% of HR leaders said they do not have an explicit future of work strategy, while only one-third reported that their future of work strategy focuses exclusively on hybrid and/or remote work.
A hybrid work model needs to be properly thought out and instilled in order to be effective. This means communication lines, technology and processes must be watertight and clear. To begin, your organisation must decide what hybrid means to you, and then how you will instill it fairly, pragmatically, and effectively by:
· Creating clear policies and procedures
Clarity on how hybrid working is vital, including but not limited to: how it is requested, on what basis, what management lines and communication look like, and so on. Individual policies will vary according to your organisation but clear guidelines, transparency, and effective setup are all crucial. Create a hybrid work policy template that can be replicated for each employee.
· Considering legal implications
Consider health and safety factors, as well as insurance. Who is liable for what, and where, and where are the work-domestic boundaries?
· Clear communication
This is crucial and includes all factors – from line managers to the HR department through to contact with colleagues. Trust and transparency are paramount.
· Focusing on training and development
It’s vital that the same training and development opportunities are offered to employees regardless of where they are based, including if that differs from employee to employee or across departments. Offer the same opportunities for remote or mostly remote workers as you do to office/majority office-based employees.
· Adopting the necessary tech
Ensure employees have access to the same software, as well as IT support, whether home or office-based.
How to promote workplace health and wellbeing amongst a remote workforce
While hybrid working has the potential to increase employee wellbeing and improve work-life balance, it is difficult for HR departments and line managers to effectively monitor this given the workforce is away from view much of the time.
While hybrid working can offer a great number of benefits for a wide variety of people, for some working remotely has been a challenge. Wellbeing at work still applies for a remote workforce and HR teams must therefore establish effective employee wellbeing programmes alongside any hybrid work policy. Organisations can maintain wellbeing at a distance by placing ownership on their strategy, as well as:
· Involving senior leaders
Make sure you equip senior leaders and managers with the necessary skills they need to have effective conversations around mental health and wellbeing with staff.
According to research by CMI, only:
- 30% of managers have been trained in managing mental health in the workplace in the last year
- 49% have never received any training on managing mental health problems
· Taking a holistic approach
Ensure wellbeing is a priority throughout the business, from candidate selection and onboarding (e.g. discussing employee wellbeing programmes from the interview stage onwards) to peer-to-peer and management. Well-being at the heart of company culture will ensure it permeates throughout, rather than relying in a policy alone.
· Creating an open culture
Establish open lines of communication and feedback, from management to employee and vice versa. Transparency and trust engender a happier workforce.
· Promoting a healthy work-life balance
Presenteeism can still exist beyond the boundary of the office and in some instances, the lines become more blurred – such as remaining on work emails/phone at any hours, or of overworking as there’s no office to physically leave.
The onus is on the management to model expected behaviour and boundaries. While it could be tempting to send emails (as an example) in unsociable hours it risks sending the wrong message.
How can Morgan Law help?
With an ever-changing working landscape, HR leaders would benefit from finding the right recruiting partner to help navigate existing challenges and potential staff shortages during the transition to hybrid working models.
At Morgan Law, we look to build trusting, consultative relationships with clients, acting as a genuine partner for your recruitment needs. We’ll be clear about the challenges of hiring a role and we’ll only suggest appropriate solutions. Our creativity, responsibility and integrity help us deliver a consistently high-quality service and make us a preferred recruitment supplier for many organisations across the public and not-for-profit sectors.