Office, home or both? Hybrid operation to become the norm across the region
The pandemic has seen large swathes of the UK economy adopt flexible and modern ways of working and many companies have already announced that hybrid work is here to stay for its staff.
But while more and more companies are faced with the fact that part of their workforce appreciates and benefits from working from home, there are others where employees miss the working atmosphere in the workplace. office and fed up with unreliable broadband connections, questionable background effects of video calls. and makeshift living room offices at home.
Many business leaders believe hybrid work will remain after the pandemic despite reports last week that the government is considering making working from home a default position.
An employment expert said government intervention was not necessary as companies decide what will work best for them and their staff when the lockdown ends.
Neil Lloyd, managing director of FBC Manby Bowdler, a law firm with offices across the region, said flexible working legislation already exists and he sees no real need for further change after the pandemic.
âWhile I certainly welcome the launch of a flexible working task force and have enjoyed working from home over the past 18 months, business owners need to be in control of where the work has to be done.
âCurrent legislation already allows team members to request to work from home and flexibly. And before the pandemic here at FBC Manby Bowdler, where there was no obvious impact on work delivery or customer experience, we most often granted it. The current laws are working and I see no need to change the law.
Julia Fitzsimmons, head of employment law at FBC Manby Bowdler, also warns that employers who weren’t so open to flexible work demands from staff could experience a changed landscape after the pandemic.
“Employers will need to take into account that where flexible working has worked well during Covid, the reasons for refusing a request for flexible working may need to be carefully considered, while taking into account any potential discrimination concerns,” said she declared.
‘With the proportion of workers in the UK working entirely from home relatively low until the Covid pandemic, these numbers were likely to rise anyway, with most employers reconsidering their business models. Many employers are now considering hybrid work, with employees working part of their time from home or other remote location and some time on site. “
HomeServe, one of the Black Country’s largest employers, is developing a hybrid work system at its headquarters in Walsall.
âWe work on plans with our employees and spend as much time as necessary to make sure we offer as much flexibility as possible, which takes time. We also ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute ideas and suggestions as part of this process.
“We will not all be returning to the office as soon as the restrictions are lifted, as our focus is on taking it slow, thinking about safety, and balancing the needs of our employees and our business,” said the home repair business.
Tom Esler, partner at mfg Solicitors, which has offices in Telford, Ludlow and Kidderminster, says he has seen a gradual increase in the number of people returning to his offices, but stressed the importance of staff feeling comfortable in do it.
âIn the future, there will likely be no absolute requirement that legal services must be provided from an office environment. Like many businesses, we’re likely to see a hybrid situation where people can mix office work with work from home when needed. We always will. what’s best for our staff and our customers, âhe adds.
Kate Shoesmith, deputy managing director of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, says businesses and workers across the UK have proven that long-term remote working is possible and beneficial for some.
âIndividual employers should seriously think about what is best for their business and consult with their employees before deciding on their position on remote or flexible working. This is a business conversation with their employees, it isn’t. does not need government intervention, âshe adds.
Unions have warned of the risk of a two-tiered workforce, split between those who can work from home with flexibility and those who cannot.
Gareth Hughes, managing director of Wellington-based recruiting firm ethero, says that in some industries – such as industry, manufacturing, food manufacturing and warehousing – flexible working won’t be able to happen.
“I sort of agree with the union’s position that the more this flexible work is pushed, the more it will create a two-tier system where a lot of people will feel left out.
âHow the manufacturers etc. will handle this, when they are already quite far behind the rest in terms of worker engagement anyway, will be the biggest challenge for the industrial workforce in the world. ‘to come up.
âThe incredible complexity, volume and speed demands of the manufacturing and food production sectors will inevitably struggle to provide more flexibility to their workforce and will likely suffer. “
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last month revealed that the proportion of people working from home more than doubled in 2020 during the pandemic, though it remains a minority of all workers across the board. the United Kingdom.
The 2019 conservative manifesto before the pandemic promised to legislate for flexible working, while ministers spoke of a “balanced return to work”.
Treasury Minister Jesse Norman said: âOf course we want a balanced return to work.
“It’s going to be very specific to the company or organization and any guidance the government releases will have to recognize that.”