It’s been over a year since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic and working arrangements shifted dramatically from in-office to remote. But with normality on the horizon, how will we all be working in a post-pandemic future?
Facilitating flexible working
With staff beginning their gradual return to the workplace, businesses will need to start making decisions around working arrangements, informing staff of these as soon as possible. It might be that business owners choose to ask employees for their thoughts beforehand to ensure their needs and concerns are considered.
Businesses choosing to return full time to the workplace will need to establish whether this will be done on a rota basis or not. For those adopting a more hybrid way of working, clear expectations will need to be given to staff, including establishing working hours and days in the workplace versus days at home.
Considering contractual changes
Depending on the decisions made around an employee’s working conditions, contractual changes may be required. This would include details of where a staff member is required to work from and their expected working hours. For those working from home full time, employers must consider whether a new risk assessment is needed for their place of work.
It would also be wise for employers to reserve the right to request an employee’s presence in the physical workplace. For example, to attend client or customer meetings.
It is important to note that any contractual changes must not be made until the employer is certain that they will be implemented for the foreseeable future. Discussing these changes with the workforce beforehand can reduce the risk of employees making formal flexible working requests, such as for alternative working hours, at a later date.
Implementing new policies
In the event that an employer has some of their workforce operating full time from home and others on flexible working terms, it may be necessary to implement a homeworking policy. This would also be beneficial to businesses looking to trial a hybrid approach, before implementing one permanently.
For those working alone whether at home, at customer premises or in the workplace, a lone worker policy may be necessary. This would set out the measures in place to ensure the health and safety of those working by themselves, including regular check-ins and the reporting of any incidents.
Although some businesses will return to the workplace full time, it is likely that more and more will begin to adopt hybrid ways of working in the future. Organisations should seek to consult their staff before making any permanent decisions, to avoid any issues later down the line.
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