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By LegalEdge News

Hybrid working: here to stay? Some questions HR teams need to ask

The work from home advice changed in England on 19 July 2021 when restrictions were lifted with the government urging a “gradual return to work”. In Scotland, the government is continuing to encourage employers to support home working, or flexible working, where possible and appropriate.

As a result of the experience of home working during the pandemic, it is likely that many employers will allow employees a far greater level of flexibility and freedom around where staff work in future. The term “hybrid working” – which most people hadn’t heard of a year ago – is now embraced by many businesses. Some well-known organisations have announced they will be adopting a policy of mixing office and working from other locations, such as at home, in various proportions going forward, as well as offering flexibility on working hours. 

The attractiveness of hybrid working is widely accepted; better work-life balance as employees commute less and save money and, to some extent, can build their personal lives around work, a workforce that is happier and more productive and a reduction in expensive city-centre rents as less office space needed – it looks like a win-win for everyone! 

But there are some valid cultural concerns: how effectively will less experienced employees learn and build their professional networks without face-to-face contact, how well will companies be able to maintain a business identity without physical interaction and will the creativity that can spring from being in the same physical space be lost?  Employers will need to monitor how hybrid working affects the workforce in practice to answers these questions.

While it won’t be for every business, employers who decide to adopt the hybrid model need to plan carefully and assess the legal risks. Here are our top 5 issues:

1. Deciding the details

2. Changes to employment contracts

3. There will be knock-on effects

4. Data protection headaches

5. Don’t forget about health and safety

At LegalEdge we’re helping our clients navigate their way through changes to the workplace as a result of Covid-19. Our experience suggests that the key is understanding what your business needs when it comes to physical team presence, recognising staff concerns so these can be addressed up front and adequate planning to allow time for adjustment.

Whether you need help getting your staff back to the office or want to put in place a new hybrid working model, we can help. Please get in touch if you have any questions or need help implementing your changes.

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