Hybrid work booms - but is it here to stay?

More than three-quarters of UK employers are now offering staff hybrid working opportunities through a mix of formal and informal arrangements, according to a new survey.

hybrid working office working
The survey of more than a thousand senior decision-makers, conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), also found that employers were split over whether the move to flexible working would be a permanent fixture or if organisations would eventually revert to pre-pandemic ways of working.

In the wake of the findings, the CIPD, which represents HR professionals, urged companies to "seize the moment to develop and embed new ways of working that will ultimately benefit organisations and their people".

The survey found that 78% of respondents were currently offering hybrid working, while just 8% were not. The remainder said such arrangements were not possible in their sector.

Just over half of respondents said they expected hybrid workers to be in the office for a minimum number of days, either each week or each month, but some 44% said there were no minimum expectations to come in.

Should there be a set number of days for hybrid workers to come in?

Additionally, CIPD found that 59% of managers trusted staff working from home to be more productive in the post-pandemic era than they were before the arrival of Covid-19.

However, the survey also showed that many of the current arrangements for hybrid working might not last. Two-fifths of senior decision makers agreed with the proposition 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'. A similar proportion of managers disagreed with that statement.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD said: “The post-Covid future of work is still undecided. Now’s the time for employers to engage with their people and continue to refine and embed new ways of working that suit both the organisation and the workforce.

"Developing effective hybrid working arrangements can help employers attract and retain a more diverse workforce while enhancing employee wellbeing, work-life balance and productivity. They can also help employees easily and productively work from home when there are disruptions to their working day, like the rail strikes this week, or when adverse weather strikes."

Mr Willmott accepted that hybrid working did not suit all employees or simply was not possible for many workers.

Companies need to offer different

"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," he added.

“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.”

Read more news and views from David Sapsted, June articles.

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