HR Tips & Answers

Flexibility and Hybrid working is here to stay!

Flexibility, Hybrid working, choice and control are clearly today’s ‘buzz’ words.

Did you know that since the COVID-19 pandemic almost half of today’s job seekers do not want to work for a business that doesn’t offer flexible working options.

The pandemic showed both businesses and workers alike that there are jobs that can be done outside the traditional office setting; and while the worst of the pandemic is behind us it has left some lingering after-effects for businesses and their HR departments to manage.

A recent survey of 1000 people, conducted by Officeworks, found that most of them felt that working from home for two or three days a week would be their ideal working model.  They felt that they were better to focus with less interruption in their home office environment and in agreement with the employer it provided flexibility in working hours outside the traditional 9-5 working day.

Workplace flexibility has become a major consideration for all businesses when trying to recruit, secure and retain staff.

Have you considered how flexible or hybrid working arrangements might affect the quality of your recruitment, the culture of  your business and, importantly, productivity?  How can your business embrace this new way of working?

Some companies have successfully introduced hybrid working models that allow their employees to work a specified number of days in the workplace and the remainder from home, thereby embedding it in the workplace culture and setting a precedent for others.

Yes, there are still jobs that can only be carried out in a factory or other specialised working environment, however there a still more that can be carried out in a flexible or ‘hybrid’ format.

And yes, there are still bosses who want their employees back in the workplace regardless, but you should consider whether this is the best and most effective option for your business going forward.

The recent legislative changes came into effect from 1 July 2023 and mean that having a Flexibility Policy  is a ‘must have’ for businesses of all sizes.

When looking at a flexible or hybrid working arrangement request there are a number of pros and cons that  a business should consider both the positive and negative impacts on the employee, the business and other employees.

Negatives may be setup costs (ie initial & ongoing costs), the impacts of any delays due to location and communication methods, etc & the potential disruption to other employees & processes, on the other hand the positives include things like decreased costs of office space, implementation of more effective rostering, increased retention, collaboration, work/life balance and so on.

Consultation with employees is imperative when looking at whether your business can accommodate requests for flexible or hybrid working arrangements.

Recent legislation demonstrates that the process must take into account equally the employee’s needs as well as the company’s needs.  Don’t take a one-size fits all approach; you must consider each request on its own merits.

Your policies and processes must be robust, clear, and compliant.   If your business can’t approve an employee’s request for flexible or hybrid working arrangement you must be able to provide documented proof that you have followed due process and established that it would cause detriment to the business &/or other employees.

Workplace flexibility is here to stay, it’s now a matter of how your business embraces it and moves forward – consider the benefits it might bring to your business!

Published: Tuesday, July 18th, 2023

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