Home working won’t end with COVID

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Employment Law on Friday, February 26th, 2021

Many businesses preparing for the end of lockdown say they won’t end flexible and remote working practices, with firms such as John Lewis Partnership and Metro Bank planning to introduce ‘blended’ and ‘hybrid’ models of working going forwards. A spokesperson for John Lewis said its new working model would “give head office Partners choice, trust and flexibility with where and how they work.”

The home working revolution

The switch to home working induced by the coronavirus pandemic has caused millions of office employees (and their employers) to realise that they can do their job quite easily from home, without a long commute and the hours out of their day it takes.

Indeed, a report co-published by YouGov and Vestd, examining what British jobseekers want from their career in the post-COVID era, revealed that two thirds (66%) cited the ability to work remotely or flexibly as their top priority. This figure is even higher for certain industries, with data from the Harvey Nash Tech Survey 2021 revealing that 79% of technology employees would like to continue working from home three to five days a week post-lockdown, rising to 91% for those wanting to work remotely two to five days per week.

Preparing for a new age

When lockdown first began in March 2020, we wrote several articles offering advice to employers on how to support their employees through what was then believed to be a temporary situation. This advice is still applicable to businesses looking to continue using flexible working models into 2021 and beyond, and includes aspects such as:

  • Ensuring that employees have access to the equipment and technology they need to do their job.
  • Developing a home working policy that sets out how home workers will be set up and managed, who will provide and pay for equipment, how risk assessments will be carried out, etc.
  • Checking that your insurance covers employees who are working from home.
  • Encouraging employees to take care of their physical and mental health, for example by taking regular breaks and exercising and by ensuring they know how to access support if they are feeling stressed, anxious or lonely.
  • Following the law on working hours by having clear start and finish times.

Returning to the workplace

While many employees expect to go back into the office, many more plan to split their time between home and work. And a new survey shows that employers are preparing for this change in several ways.

According to research from Sony Professional Solutions, several key trends are emerging this year:

  • An increase in companies drawing up permanent flexible working policies.
  • Employers collaborating with and supporting employees to work from home.
  • A focus on creating virtual and physical ‘social’ spaces that enable a hybrid workforce to collaborate effectively.
  • Increased use of data to track employee interaction.

Seasoned HR experts on hand to help

Businesses are going through massive changes, requiring significant adaptations to the way they have always worked. To do this effectively whilst still complying with their legal obligations and responsibilities to their staff, employers should take professional legal advice to help them make the smoothest transition possible. Get in touch with our Employment Law specialist, Ahmet Ozcan, at ahmet.ozcan@attwaters.co.uk.





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