Is “Hybrid Working” the way forward for Employers in 2022?

Yes, according to new guidance on hybrid working for employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) in collaboration with members of the Government’s Flexible Working Taskforce.

The new guidance, published on 3 December 2021, supplements existing guidance from ACAS on hybrid working and encourages employers to openly consider hybrid working as a viable way forward. CIPD’s guidance will ring more prominently for employers as the new year begins, in light of the growing concern around the risks of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, and the Government guidance in force at the time of writing, for employees to work from home if they “can”.

CIPD’s guidance suggests that hybrid working may be a solution to attracting and retaining valuable employees. The guidance also sets out practical steps and examples for employers to consider when implementing hybrid working.

If you are an employer, have you considered adopting a hybrid workplace model? If so, have you:

  • Ensured that there are well-drafted hybrid working policies and practices in place;
  • Trained managers and the wider workforce on hybrid working and on how to manage hybrid working for employees who may have a protected characteristic (i.e., pregnant employees or employees who are disabled);
  • Taken employees’ views on any preference for a hybrid working model? You should recognise that hybrid working may not be beneficial to all employees and it is important you account for employees’ views and wellbeing;
  • Considered how you might implement hybrid working in a way that best protects your employees and accounts for the size of your business;
  • Considered how you can ensure confidential information is protected by employees when working from home (i.e., are your IT, data protection, and information usage policies up to date);
  • Considered how you can protect employees’ health and safety and support their mental health whilst they are working from home;
  • Carried out a health and safety risk assessment on remote working;
  • Updated your health and safety policies and procedures to account for remote working and sickness reporting; and
  • Updated your disciplinary and IT/social media usage policies in respect of internal correspondence between employees to try to circumvent the risks of harassment and discrimination taking place.

The above are only some of many key considerations employers should have in mind when and if implementing hybrid working.

The risks in not following out proper and fair practice are far and wide-reaching and could expose employers to potential claims for discrimination and unfair dismissal, say if employees’ views on their working arrangements are not taken into account and/or if employees who must work remotely (due to disabilities or caring responsibilities) are treated less favourably than employees who are able to spend more time working in the office.

It is important, therefore, for employers to ensure that the relevant procedures and policies are in place, updated and well-drafted. Employers will also need to ensure that any move to or reintroduction of hybrid working is well thought out, and accounts for the considerations set out above.

Do you need a hybrid working policy in place? Are you looking for advice in relation to hybrid working and managing or implementing it in the workplace? Our employment team are on-hand to provide specialist bespoke advice swiftly and can assist with policy drafting and advice tailored to you and your business.

It is clear that, at least for the time being, hybrid working appears to be the new reality for future working.

All information is true as at the date of preparing this article. Please always consult the latest legislation or government guidance for accurate information.