Since the further easing of pandemic restrictions on September 20th, 2021, employees who have previously been working remotely have been returning to their workplaces on a phased and staggered basis. On October 22nd, 2021, almost all COVID-19 restrictions are to be lifted and employees will no longer be required to work from home. To allow for the safe return of employees, businesses must ensure they follow government guidance and have the appropriate systems in place.
While it is great to now have the option of returning to the office, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will want to, not on a full-time basis at least. Experiencing the longer lie-ins, no commute, and an overall better work-life balance, employers and employees alike have enjoyed the benefits of remote working. However, each employee is different and along with the benefits of working from home comes challenges such as employees feeling isolated and unmotivated. Phase II of the Remote Working during COVID-19 National Survey conducted in Ireland in October 2020 found that 94% of respondents would like to work remotely for at least part of their working week. Because of this, many businesses have adopted a hybrid working model, with many more set to do so in the coming months.
In Ireland, hybrid working falls under remote working and may sometimes be referred to as e-working or flexible working. A hybrid working model is when an employee works part of their time in the workplace provided by their employer and part of their time from home or anywhere else other than the normal place of work. In Ireland, employees have the right to request that they work this way. However, currently there is no legal framework around how such a request should be made and how it should be handled by employers. The legislation giving employees the right to request remote working is expected to be published at the end of the year.
As an employer, you may already have experience with employees working from home and the advantages it can bring. You also may have already decided that you would like to adopt a hybrid working model into your workplace. If this is the case, a Hybrid Working Policy document should be created so that all staff are aware of how the new arrangement will operate.
The rules and limitations surrounding the company’s hybrid working policy should be clearly outlined in the Hybrid Working Policy, including:
The policy should include details of how staff will be managed and supported as they work from separate locations, including:
Guidelines for remote working should be clearly defined, including:
Once you have put together a Hybrid Working Policy, what is the best way to share it with employees? When sharing the policy with employees, you may want to share it with all or multiple employees at the same time. As employees may be working from different locations, it’s likely not possible to physically hand out the document to each employee.
You could email the policy to employees. However, emails are not always an effective way of getting your employees' attention. In a 2019 survey, 34% of respondents said that they sometimes ignore HR emails from their employer, while 5.7% even said that they always ignore HR emails. The reason for this may be that employees are simply overwhelmed by the number of emails they receive at work.
A better way of getting employees to read your new Hybrid Working Policy is by sharing it with them through an app on their smartphones. BrightPay Connect is a cloud add-on to BrightPay payroll software which includes an employee app which can be used to take care of a number of HR tasks. With BrightPay Connect, employers will have access to their own employer dashboard from where they can upload employee documents to be shared with employees through the employee app. Employers can share documents with individual employees, multiple employees or all employees if they wish to do so. This means employees can easily access all their documents in one place, be it their individual contract of employment or company-wide documents. Since the documents are available on the employees' phones, it also means they can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
When a document is shared with employees this way, each employee will receive a push notification on their mobile to notify them that the document has become available for them to view. With push notifications, because users can instantly read the alert on their device, they are less likely to ignore it like they may do with an email. Furthermore, employers can track who has and who has not read each document and so you can give them a nudge if needs be.
Reviewing and updating your Hybrid Working Policy
As hybrid working is still a relatively new concept for many employers, the policy should be reviewed regularly. Employers may want to make changes to the policy as the needs of the business and employees change. The updated policy can be quickly reshared on BrightPay Connect, and employees are once again alerted to it by push notification.
As well as sharing documents, you can also easily share payslips with employees using BrightPay Connect. Other HR functions of BrightPay Connect which are done using the employee app are annual leave management and updating employee information. To learn more about the many benefits of BrightPay Connect and how they can improve your business and ease the transition to hybrid working, book a free online demo today.