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How to Build a Hybrid Workplace and Nail It

Transitioning into a hybrid workplace is not easy—it needs many considerations. Read this blog to learn how you can successfully implement hybrid working.

Building a hybrid workplace needs many considerations. Both your organization and your people need to be ready if you want to successfully implement a hybrid working strategy. In the first part of the hybrid working blog series, I talked about how hybrid and remote working affect your business and how to find the right balance to avoid the pitfalls of this new way of working.

In this blog, I want to dig deeper into what you need to consider when implementing hybrid working, so you can create a hybrid workplace where your employees’ well-being and aspiration are taken care of—and that counts for those who opt to work remotely and those who choose to come back to the office.

There are three main things that you need to pay attention to: your health and safety obligations to remote workers, remote workers’ career progression, and the impact on in-office workers. Let’s talk about each of these in details.

3 Things to consider when building a hybrid workplace

1. Your health and safety obligations to remote workers – Many firms will have carried out some form of ad hoc risk assessment to fulfill their health and safety obligations towards locked-down homeworkers. Although this assessment will often have been a self-assessment questionnaire for the remote worker to complete, HR may also have carried out a live inspection of the remote worker’s work area via video call.

As you transition to more formal and longer-term remote working, a more detailed assessment may be appropriate, with provision for ongoing reviews. You should also consider aspects that may have been overlooked during an initial assessment for short-term remote work, such as the risks of occupational health and mental health issues developing over time.  

The Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999, the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations and several other pieces of legislation set out the obligations that employers owe to lone, remote workers.

Ideally, each assessment should be tailored to the specific work tasks, environment, and health requirements of the worker. When carrying out the risk assessment, you should consider questions like:

  • Does the worker have a suitable desk, chair, or work area? 
  • Do they have suitable work equipment? 
  • Do they need additional adjustments, tools, or equipment, such as display screen glasses, or a raised monitor? 
  • Does the worker have any existing health concerns that need additional management or monitoring? 
  • How does the work setup affect other members of the household? Are children and visitors (or even pets) at risk? 
  • Is the worker able to take regular breaks? 
  • Is the worker aware of the need for correct posture, wrist, and back support? 
  • If the worker uses a phone, is their exposure to noise-related risks being managed? 
  • Does the work area present any trip or fire hazards? 
  • If the worker needs to carry or move document boxes or other heavy items, have they received manual handling training? Can they be stored safely at the worker’s home? 

The Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 requires companies to hold employers’ liability (EL) insurance. EL insurance protects workers in the event they are injured in the course of their work. The Act applies to home workers as well as in-office staff, but your current EL policy may include specific clauses that apply to remote workers. You should review and revise your EL policy, if required. 

2. Remote workers’ career progression

The recent ONS survey identified concerns over career progression as one of the biggest disadvantages of remote work. Other data supports this fear, with one US survey finding that 42% of managers “sometimes forget” about remote workers when assigning tasks. Homeworkers were 50% less likely to be promoted. 

These concerns will particularly affect younger workers, as argued by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak in a recent interview. Older workers with less expectation of, or interest in, advancement will care less, but the business should still recognize and correctly assess their contribution. 

Using Slack, Trello or other team management tools can help to reduce the risk of “forgetting” about remote workers. Identifying objective standards of performance measurement is absolutely critical, to ensure that all workers are rewarded for their work, not for facetime. Better performance metrics will also help to determine whether remote working more generally is worth it for your company.

42% of managers “sometimes forget” about remote workers when assigning tasks.

3. The impact on in-office workers 

Companies in some sectors have been able to move fully online in recent months, abandoning physical premises entirely. Most businesses, however, must retain some bricks-and-mortar presence, and some roles cannot be carried out remotely.  

When implementing remote working policies, you should consider the impact on workers who cannot work from home or choose not to. In-office workers could find communicating with remote colleagues or managers equally frustrating. The stress caused by a long commute, and the impact on an employee’s work/life balance, can also create resentment if working from home is seen as a luxury or privilege. Although it is not practical, or even possible, to address every difference between remote and in-office work, by taking a flexible, collaborative approach, you should be able to identify and resolve most concerns. 

Communication tools like Zoom, Skype and Teams, team management software like Slack and Trello, and basic email shared calendars can all help to ensure the whole business stays in touch and is involved in the day-to-day operation of the company. In-office workers can use these tools as effectively as remote workers, and the likes of Zoom can even be used to include all staff in social activities like after-work drinks.

Mastering hybrid working

Building a successful hybrid workplace is not easy. Accepting changes and being flexible is the key to creating a more equitable remote and hybrid work experience. Listen to what your employees need and understand their rights. When you plan policies, include those who choose to work remotely, those who choose to split their time between their home and office, and those who choose to return to the office altogether. Succeeding in the new world of workplace requires a joined effort between leaders and their people. 

 

Quittance Legal Services is an award-winning legal firm that serves with empathy, professionalism, and an uncompromising focus on results. 

Contact us and learn how we can help you get deep insight on your people in a hybrid workplace. 

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Author

Chris Salmon

Chris Salmon is the Operations Director of UK-based legal specialists Quittance Legal Services.

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