Policies in practice
Our customers are sharing their experiences of how to manage their workforce planning post-pandemic. These include a Housing Association employer, who put in place a hybrid working trial of two days per week in the office, which went well. They are also looking at offering different options for working with different Terms and Conditions, so the employee can then choose the option that suits them. Necessarily, this is subject to job requirement, for example trade roles need to be onsite to do their job.
Another Housing Association employer is considering trialling a four-day working week and other arrangements, such as flexible public holidays. This means employees are not required to take the ‘official’ Bank Holidays and have these in lieu, in addition to trialling ‘Take what you want’ leave that Netflix offered its employees as a key benefit.
Therefore, returning to the idea of a pay cut for those who choose to work from home, the idea behind this needs to be interrogated more thoroughly. The expectations and standards will surely be the same – presenteeism has surely been overcome by the pandemic showing that working from home does not impact productivity. By empowering employees instead, performance and productivity can flourish by supporting employees with more flexible arrangements that allow them to balance work and home life.
From a fairness point of view, a 20 per cent pay cut might also be expected as a cost saving from clients themselves, expecting this saving to be passed on. It also raises the challenge of equal pay – what if it is predominantly women taking the expected pay cut to fulfil childcare responsibilities, yet they are doing the same work? Similarly, this creates potential issues of discrimination in the same scenario.
Behaviours and culture
Hybrid working necessitates digital and cultural transformation. For many of our customers, this was underway before the pandemic, which accelerated the programme and meant that employees are more equipped to work successfully in this way.
One of the main challenges to implementing new ways of working is around maintaining a culture that drives connections between employees. Line Managers are key to avoiding silo working, through regular one-to-ones and team meetings designed to align employees to the wider organisation’s vision. This is imperative when teams may be predominantly working digitally. For managers it is more important to join the dots, provide clarity and direction when there is ambiguity and competing priorities, with a focus on bringing teams together and employee wellbeing rather than solely being an ‘expert’.
Balancing the office environment and home working can be tailored to what individuals need to maintain social connection. Strong internal communications strategies are key to create a culture of belonging and sense of community. While some employees struggled with mental health issues arising from isolation during the pandemic, now there is greater opportunity to collaborate in office space and promote social interactions. One customer has reported how they increased their communication through fortnightly all-staff webinars and quarterly strategic updates from the Leadership team, while also giving employees a behaviour framework to define their culture and advise on ‘what good looks like’ in their definition of hybrid working. They have given ownership to teams to define when to use the office.