Almost all Covid restrictions ended in April 2022 as part of the government’s Living with Covid plan, but returning to ‘normal’ isn’t going to be straightforward – especially in the workplace.
The popularity of hybrid working
Lockdown-enforced homeworking has been enthusiastically embraced and many businesses now find they’re expected to offer hybrid working, with staff working just two or three days a week in the office.
In this evolving new world of work, businesses need to be agile. Ideally, this will involve collaborating with staff to establish what works for the business, what works for employees and what works for clients.
A new output-based focus
One fundamental change already emerging is how businesses manage employees who work remotely. This will now become more output-based, focusing on whether staff are completing work assigned to them, and doing it well.
Key to this will be more regular appraisals with employers clarifying what’s expected of staff and so issues of any kind can be addressed quickly.
Hybrid working issues to consider – from GDPR to insurance
The scope of issues raised by hybrid working is wide-ranging. Firms must factor in GDPR legislation but should also be thinking about insurance implications. For example, what happens if someone falls while working from home and claims it’s a work-related accident?
Such a scenario will likely have to be clarified by a test case in court but, in the meantime, the onus is on firms to provide staff with reasonable safety training for homeworking.
Equipment provision for the hybrid working environment
Decisions also need to be made about how much equipment firms provide for staff, as that may mean firms providing two of everything – one desk for work and one for home, for example.
Early indications suggest many could be moving to a model that involves giving employees a budget to spend, providing training and then asking staff to sign a waiver regarding accidents while working from home.
With regard to Covid, companies are continuing to ask employees who test positive to stay at home until they test negative.
Wearing masks is left to individual choice but many firms have created designated areas with extra space for employees who are vulnerable, but still want to come into the office.
The new workplace environment is still evolving so no one can know all the answers yet. All firms can do is be flexible and work with employees to ensure they feel listened to as we move forward. Those firms that don’t, can risk losing staff to those that do.
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