The pandemic brought about a number of changes to working practices. For many the daily routine of attending the work place and being with colleagues was switched, almost overnight, to remote working from home.
Since restrictions have lifted businesses have begun transitioning their employees back to the office however, for a number of people, when it comes to work it seems that there will be a ‘new normal’ of working under a hybrid working regime.
Hybrid working is a working arrangement which allows an employee to split their time between the workplace and working remotely e.g. from home. It can consist of a one-off day, an informal or set working pattern or can be a temporary and adaptable measure to suit the needs of the business and/or the employee.
One in four people in the UK are expected to have some form of mental health related problem during their lifetime. Recent years have seen a steady increase in the rate of self-reported work related stress, depression or anxiety. For 2019/20 the Health and Safety Executive reported a further increase which was significantly higher than before. During this period it was estimated that 828,000 workers were affected, resulting in around 17.9m working days being lost. For 2019/20 work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health and 55% of all days lost due to work-related ill-health.
Hybrid working has many benefits given the flexibility it can offer and is recognised as assisting individuals achieve a better work life balance. Whether it means facilitating caring and childcare responsibilities or rather than being on the daily commute, having more leisure time and being home for family meals, there are a number of positive aspects. It can also assist those who are perhaps a little apprehensive about returning to the workplace following COVID-19.
Although a hybrid working model can be beneficial to mental health and wellbeing, it should be borne in mind that one size doesn’t fit all. A reduction in human interaction can have a negative effect, particularly to those who live alone or with difficult personal circumstances. Isolation and loneliness will be a key consideration for some whilst others may welcome a physical boundary between home and work due to finding remote working places upon them additional stress and a feeling of inability to switch off.
That said, by clearly setting out what is expected when hybrid working, keeping open strong lines of communication, provision of training and support, and upskilling line managers, organisations can ensure that the right balance is struck thereby improving wellbeing, job satisfaction and productivity.
For specialist advice on how to prepare and implement an effective hybrid working policy, contact Rebecca Utton or another member of the Regulatory and Corporate Defence Team.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at October 2021.