By Dax Keeling, Bell and Buxton incorporating Ironmonger Curtis.

 

Hybrid working is the term used to describe an employee who is splitting their time between the office and their home. Due to the pandemic this way of working has been a feature of most people’s working lives over the past year or so.

The number of workers in the UK working entirely from home was relatively low before the pandemic. However, the numbers are now likely to grow, as employers reconsider their operating models.

This article considers some of the legal and practical implications that an employer will need to consider when engaging homeworkers or hybrid workers. Working from home has advantages and disadvantages for both employers and employees.

Advantages

  • Most employees will view the option to work from home as a benefit, but there are also potential advantages for employers. These include:
  • Reduced overhead costs
  • Increased productivityg. due to reduced travelling times
  • Better motivationg. some employees work better at home
  • Skills retentiong. employees with families will value the flexibility homeworking provides
  • Recruitmentg. employers that allow homeworking will have access to a wider geographical talent pool
  • Team flexibility
  • Technological competency, as homeworkers are more likely to rely on technology in order to carry out their role
  • Resilience, employers that are embracing homeworking and hybrid working may be better able to withstand disruptions such as transport problems, adverse weather conditions etc

Disadvantages

  • However, there are also reasons why an employer may be reluctant to embrace homeworking or hybrid working:
  • Cultureg. potential damage to team working and company culture
  • Collaborationg. reduced face-to-face collaboration among colleagues which is important for employee social interaction and wellbeing
  • Management and oversightg. managers may not be able to support employees to the same degree
  • Learning and developmentg. reduced on-the-job learning and training opportunities for junior or less experienced employees
  • Technologyg. employers may become overly dependent on technology
  • Productivityg. employers will be reliant to a large degree on trust and may fear that some employees will not perform.
  • Data securityg. increased risk of confidential information, data security and data protection breaches.
  • Inclusivityg. employers may face challenges ensuring inclusivity and participation with a remote workforce
  • Mental healthg. employees working from home may experience loneliness and boredom, feel alienated from their organisation and may find it more difficult to separate work life from home life

For employees, there can be various benefits to working from home: an improved work-life balance, less time and expense spent commuting, greater autonomy and more time for personal commitments such as dependants and other non-work pursuits.

Legal and practical considerations

  • There are several legal and practical issues that employers should consider when employing homeworkers and hybrid workers:
  • Reporting and appraisals
  • Data protection: employers will need to take appropriate measures to prevent any data protection breaches from arising.
  • Health and safety: employers will need to consider their statutory health and safety obligations and decide what measures need to be put in place, including conducting risk assessments.
  • Computers and display screen equipment:g. identifying and reducing any health and safety risks.
  • Insurance: any equipment provided by the employer will need to be covered by insurance.

If you would like to speak to Dax Keeling about homeworking or hybrid working, please contact him on 0114 220 2172 or d.keeling@bellbuxton.co.uk 

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