The TUC is warning employers not to create a “class divide” by overlooking the flexible working needs of people who must be present in a workplace, as Acas publishes guidance on hybrid working.
The union body’s general secretary Frances O’Grady said that “every worker in every job should be able to work flexibly” and urged the government to publish its long-awaited consultation on rights to flexible working from day one.
Advice published today by Acas, aims to help employers introduce hybrid working and manage requests from staff who wish to split their time between working remotely and in their employer’s workplace.
It commissioned a YouGov poll which found that 55% of employers anticipated an increase in staff working from home or remotely part of the week, while a similar number (49%) expected an increase in staff working from home or remotely all week.
Acas chief executive Susan Clews said: “Hybrid working existed before Covid and our survey reveals that more than half of employers in Britain expect this type of flexible working to increase once we come out of the pandemic. Our new advice can help employers look at the potential benefits of hybrid working, consider whether it is suitable for their workplace, and fairly manage any staff requests.”
O’Grady commented: “As restrictions ease, employers should consult with staff and their unions about working patterns and hours – including hybrid working and working from home.
“The TUC is worried by the new class divide emerging, with those who can work from home getting more flexible working options, and those who must be in a workplace missing out.”
She added that employers should consider other forms of flexible working alongside hybrid working – for example, flexitime, term-time working, job-sharing, compressed hours.
“Flexible working is good for productivity, for morale, and it helps working people balance work with their other responsibilities. Ministers should get on and publish their long-promised consultation on day-one flexible working rights for every worker, in every job,” said O’Grady.
Acas advises that hybrid working can help employers attract and retain staff as well as increase staff productivity and that employees benefit by saving money and time commuting and enjoying a better work-life balance.
Cheney Hamilton, founder and CEO of the FindYourFlex job board, said: “One of the easiest and most practical ways for employers who haven’t offered flexibility in the past to understand what their business can offer, is to break down current role descriptions into outputs.
“Once they do this, they remove the need for the ‘where, how and when’, allowing a world of flexibility that they hadn’t considered before. In addition to staff wellbeing, the cost benefits for businesses to do this are huge.
She added that “output working” enables businesses to move their employees from a fixed-cost liability to a variable-cost asset.
Acas’s advice for employers includes:
- Consult widely with staff and their representatives about introducing hybrid working and discuss practical considerations such as regular communication, technology, performance management and health and safety;
- Hybrid working policies could look at which roles are eligible, how someone can request it and any principles such as allowing remote working for a maximum number of days a week;
- Ensure staff who are working remotely are not excluded and have access to the same opportunities as those in the workplace; and
- Decisions around whether to approve a request for hybrid working should be fair, transparent and other forms of flexible working that could work as possible alternatives can be discussed with employees.