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5 things businesses need to know before switching to hybrid work


Many companies are pondering hybrid work relationships as a post-COVID-19 solution. (Nuthawut/Adobe Stock)

By now, remote work has become routine for many.

According to a survey conducted by FlexJobs, 65 per cent of those surveyed expect full-time remote work post-pandemic, and another 31 per cent prefer a hybrid work arrangement.

Kiljon Shukullari, advisory team lead at HR consulting firm Peninsula Canada, says that while remote work has been embraced by many, some workplaces might be missing the benefits of working in person. The employers of these organizations might look to hybrid working arrangements as a solution.

“Hybrid working arrangements combine remote work with in-person work. In these models, workers choose which days they come into the office themselves or they rotate which days they come into work with their colleagues,” he said.

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Here are five things businesses need to know before making the switch to a hybrid working model:

Workplace policies need to be updated

When any kind of change is made in the workplace, policies need to be updated to reflect this.

“If the decision is made to switch to a hybrid working model, employers should lay out the details and their expectations in clear policies that are made available to all workers,” said Shukullari.

The policies can explain which days staff can work remotely, when they are expected to come into work, when they are expected to be responsive to communications during remote work and guidelines on the use of company equipment.

Employers must be careful about changing contracts

Employment contracts will also have to reflect company changes that have been made. However, when it comes to the contracts of existing staff, employers must be aware of their workers’ rights.

“Employers cannot make substantial changes to workers’ conditions of employment, such as significant changes to their work hours or wages, without their workers’ consent or a contractual right to do so,” said Shukullari.

“Before making any changes, employers must review existing contracts to determine whether they are within their rights to go forward with a switch to a hybrid work model.”

For new hires, employers can include hybrid working in their employment contracts at the start of their employment.

What is the future of the traditional office?

Employers’ health and safety obligations

Employers have a duty to provide workers with a healthy and safe work environment. This applies regardless of whether staff are in the physical workplace or at home.

Remote workers have the same rights as workers who come into the office, so employers must ensure that they are safe when they are working from home.

Effective management and communication

Staff shouldn’t be left feeling like they are on their own when they are working remotely.

To support workers, management should be frequently checking in to assess the effectiveness of the remote work arrangement. This will also give workers a chance to express concerns or request help.

“Virtual meetings are a more personal way for team members to connect and are also a good time for management to help workers identify work goals and targets for productivity,” said Shukullari.

Providing training to help staff work better

Hybrid working models might not be an easy adjustment for everyone.

Managers and workers alike can be trained on how to work from home safely and efficiently.

Managers, especially, might benefit from training on how to manage remote staff and best support them.

Kristina Vassilieva is an HR writer for Peninsula Canada in Toronto.