We have been talking about hybrids for ages, haven’t we?

The use of hybrid and electric vehicles in our society is increasing and a 2030 ban on petrol and diesel vehicles looms – but there is now another type of hybrid rearing its head and its one that employers need to be ready for.

We are talking about the hybrid working environment – the concept that employees will divide their time between their normal workplace and their home (or other working space). This is something that some employees have previously enjoyed and the concept of ‘hot-desking’ has been around for sometime but the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a push towards hybrid working for many who previously undertook their work in the ‘classic’ office environment.

Of course, any fundamental change to work must be consulted upon and agreed between the parties – in our previous LAWMail, we touched on the rise of flexible working requests and these will likely play a significant part as employees seek differing options in the way they work.

This is not a fad, however, and employers need to start thinking about how they are going to manage ‘hybrid employees’ within their business today and into the future. Mutual agreement following consultation might be where you start but how do you ensure consistency, fairness and equality for all when dealing with hybrid and non-hybrid employees?

As a starting point, business should consider the implementation of a Hybrid work policy. Such a policy should set out who it applies to and in what circumstances. It should also set out expectations of employees such as what proportion of time will be spent in the office and why for some roles a hybrid set-up may simply not be possible.

As an employer, the operational logistics of availability of desk and storage space need to be considered in addition to the need for enhanced cleaning around shared working spaces.

The policy will also need to extend guidance to employees in their own home – not something employers might be familiar with to date. Ensuring the employees still abide by the Working Time Regulations by taking breaks is one simple example, but also instructions on how to care for equipment or how to claim for internet and telephone usage are also simple operational issues – but ones that might be overlooked by managers unaccustomed to the hybrid set-up.

To conclude, there is nothing an employer should be worried about with a move to hybrid working but there is a lot to get organised and the time to do it – is now.

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