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Hybrid working: employers urged to ensure 'consistency and fairness'

Young male employee working on a laptop in a home office

Hybrid working is here to stay, but are employers doing enough to support their employees wherever they work?

Most people who started homeworking during the pandemic plan to work both from home and in the workplace ("hybrid work") in the future, according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Workers said that the main benefits of working from home for at least part of the week included improved work-life balance (78%), quicker to complete work at home (52%) and improved wellbeing (47%).

As many as 84% of these employees now plan to continue with a mix of working at home and in their place of work, the ONS found.

Separate data from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, shows that more than three-quarters (78%) of organisations have embraced hybrid working through a mix of formal and informal arrangements.

Over half (54%) of the senior decision makers surveyed expect hybrid workers to be in the office for a minimum number of days either each week or each month; typically for a minimum of two days (34%), or three days (32%) per week.

However, while the research indicates that hybrid working is working well in many organisations, there are still some challenges or resistance.

For example, 4% of respondents said their organisation had reduced pay and/or benefits for hybrid workers and more than one in ten (13%) plan to do so.

And some managers are sceptical that the new way of working represents a permanent shift. A small majority of senior decision makers (42%) felt that 'the memory of the pandemic will fade quite quickly and it won't be long before we revert to the way we worked before Covid-19'. Another 41% disagreed with that statement.

The CIPD is urging employers to ensure that all employees, regardless of where they work, are treated and rewarded fairly and consistently.

"Developing effective hybrid working arrangements can help employers attract and retain a more diverse workforce while enhancing employee wellbeing, work-life balance and productivity," said Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD.

Such arrangements can also help employees easily and productively work from home when there are disruptions to their working day, such as rail strikes or adverse weather, Willmott explained.

He added: "Hybrid working won't suit everyone or be possible for many workers, so employers must ensure there is consistency and fairness in how they manage, reward and promote those who can work from home and those who attend the workplace every day.

"Employers should also recognise there are potential ethical and legal considerations for differentiating pay or benefits between those working from home and those working in the office unless these can be justified. For example, there could be a risk of indirect discrimination, as it's likely that there will be more people with caring responsibilities, health conditions or disabilities working more regularly from home. Treating groups of workers differently could also cause or exacerbate pay gaps."

Posted by Fidelius on July 18th 2022

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