Hybrid Working Policies and Transitioning Back to the Office

Many employers are contemplating moving their workforce back to the office. However, this may be easier said than done since only 14% of companies have no hybrid workers at all according to research done by Towergate in June 2023. As businesses strive for a balance between in-person and remote work, creating a clear, but legally sound approach is crucial. 

If you are considering bringing employees back to the office be prepared to consider and accommodate additional needs. For instance, you may need to make reasonable adjustments and recognise that some employees may have valid reasons to continue working remotely, because of health concerns or caregiving responsibilities.

Open and honest communication with your employees is key. Keep them informed about the return-to-office plan, safety measures, and the reasoning behind your decisions. However, the process of bringing your employees back to the office is dependent on your organisation and your hybrid working policy. 

Hybrid Working Policy

Your hybrid working policy should outline what is and is not acceptable when it comes to who requests hybrid working patterns and whether you can ask your employees to return to the office. 

Providing your hybrid working policy is not contractual and simply a guidance document, you can ask employees to return to the office and impose mandatory office days if this is what your business needs. It’s worth thinking about whether doing this would affect employee productivity, motivation and work life balance. 

If you are considering asking your staff to come back to the office on mandatory days or every day, you may want to monitor how this shift affects both your business and the overall quality of work. 

You can ask your team for feedback to get an understanding of whether it is working for everyone. It’s a good idea to give your employees a sufficient amount of time (3 months) before asking them to change their working pattern to give them time to make arrangements for things like childcare, pet care or other responsibilities.

What to Include in Your Hybrid Working Policy

If you have a hybrid working policy, here are a few points to include:

  • Define eligibility: Clearly define which employees are eligible for hybrid working arrangements based on job roles, performance, and business needs.
  • Working hours: Specify working hours, ensuring they comply with employment laws and maintain a consistent schedule, whether in the office or working remotely.
  • Remote work guidelines: Lay out the expectations for remote work, including productivity standards, communication tools, and data security protocols.
  • Equipment and expenses: Determine who will be responsible for providing necessary equipment and covering expenses related to remote work. Address reimbursement for any work-related costs employees might incur while working from home.
  • Performance measurement: Develop a system for measuring performance that is equitable for both in-office and remote employees. 
  • Conflict resolution: Implement a process for addressing conflicts or issues that may arise in the hybrid working model. Include a clear path for dispute resolution.
  • Compliance with employment laws: Ensure that your hybrid working policy complies with all relevant employment laws, including wage and hour regulations, overtime policies, and anti-discrimination laws.
  • Flexibility: Recognise that the policy may need to adapt over time. Being flexible and willing to make necessary adjustments will help maintain employee satisfaction and legal compliance.
  • Mandatory office days: Outline when employees will be expected to work in the office and any exceptions. 

It’s a good idea to consult with employment experts to ensure that hybrid working policies are fair and compliant with employment laws and that if you ask employees to return to the office, the transition is smooth and successful. 

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