Office or home working – should you survey staff?

Year Published: 2021

Should you survey staff about their return to the office preferences? Whether it’s office or home working or a hybrid model of the two, here are our tips for getting employee buy in for your working model.

The onset of the pandemic in March 2020 meant many employers quickly implemented home working. However, few had the time to properly consider the future implications of this. The gradual success of the vaccination programme and government releases on restrictions has meant many employers are now considering what working model they want to adopt. A significant number of businesses and organisations have requested all employees return permanently to the office. A smaller proportion have decided working from home permanently is the way forward but most are probably somewhere in between these – operating a hybrid model involving a mixture of home and office working.

Here are our top three tips on what employers should be thinking about before implementing any strategy:

1. Identify what works best for you

Most employers who have had employees working from home will now have had a chance to monitor the overall advantages and disadvantages of doing so. As assessment of what worked well and what didn’t is a good starting point. This will help explain the rationale for the decisions you are taking.

 

2. Consult employees over the plan

Involve those who are impacted by the decision. Some employees may prefer home working because it provides a better work life balance but for others working from home may be difficult due to a lack of suitable working environment or a feeling of isolation. Hybrid policies are becoming so popular because they allow the benefits of both home and office working, therefore, they can satisfy the needs and preference of those who prefer one or the other but neither in their entirety.

Failure to take on board the views of employees can lead to a number of problems: from lowering employee morale, increased grievances and flexible working requests, staff resignations and even employment tribunals claims. Due to a labour shortage across various sectors of the economy employee retention is something to be seriously considered: employers who can offer flexibility are far more likely to have higher employee retention and attract better talent.

 

3. Consider the employment law implications

An employee’s place of work is a key contractual term. If the employer wants to change a contractual term consultation is normally required. During the pandemic a lot of business quickly enforced home-working and this was met with  little resistance from employees given the situation. However, given the period of time since home-working was implemented failing to consult if you are considering changing current arrangements, could have implications from a legal perspective.

If a business is going to continue to operate home working, whether that be in full or part, then employers need to establish the parameters around home-working (which should be set out in a clear policy) and update contracts of employment. There are many aspects around home working that need consideration from well-being, suitability of working environment, health and safety, company property, data protection, employee monitoring, IT and security.

 

Summary

Getting employee buy-in for whatever working model you intend to operate is most likely to result in successful implementation. Finding out the views of your employees and taking on board what your employees think will hopefully result in a model that works well for everyone.

For more information, please contact Warren Moores on 0161 475 1225 or [email protected] 

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