What’s The Future For The Workplace In A Hybrid World?Team
As we near the half-way mark of 2022, many businesses and organizations have begun reducing or removing their pandemic related restrictions. Superficially, it appears some sort of normalcy is returning to our everyday lives.
However, the pandemic is not completely over, and many of the changes that it ushered in may prove to outlast the actual effects of the virus. One change that is here to stay in the hybrid and remote work styles.
In March of 2022, Global News found that only 12% of people surveyed were in favour of going back to in-person work full-time. Many people are in favour of staying completely remote or splitting their time between remote work and in-person work. A hybrid workplace involves some sort of variant of the two, with employees choosing whether to continue online or on-site, and some committing to a combination of both options.
So, as workplaces begin to recognize that hybrid workplaces may be here to stay, what should be considering about the hybrid model going forward?
What are the Benefits of Hybrid Work?
Aside from the fact that many workers are in favour of the approach, a hybrid model offers many benefits. By using a hybrid model of work, employees can be flexible with their work-life balance. This can be especially helpful for parents, people with disabilities, and those who function better in their own environments. People can manage their personal lives and be home for things like deliveries when they need to.
Employers are also able to hire people who live across the country or even across the world, meaning that the hiring pool is increase for employers. New talent pools open up, and employees who want to globetrot need not leave their jobs behind.
By not returning to the office, both employees and employers can reduce potential exposure to COVID-19 and other illnesses. And, with fewer people coming in, employers can save on real estate expenses by renting smaller office spaces, or not renting any office spaces at all.
Finally, working from home may provide some refuge for people experiencing issues in the office environment. It is inevitable that there will be disagreements within an office space, and by offering the ability for employees to work in their own homes, when necessary, potential issues can avoid.
There are many more benefits to maintaining hybrid work options, but keep in mind, that there are drawbacks as well.
What are the Drawbacks of Hybrid Work?
Although some employees prefer being able to work from home, that is not the case for everyone. Some people have report feeling especially lonely and disconnected when working from home, which can lead to mental health complications. Employees will not be able to build comradery and work as a team quite as effectively as when they are working in person.
As many people have discovered over the last two years, technology is also not always reliable. When employees are scattered across time zones, wifi networks, and devices. There’s always the potential of lost connections and ineffective communication. In turn, this can result in unavoidable delays.
Some people are more productive when working from home, but others are not. Some employees have reported feeling burnt out by their home office environments. Employers may see a dip in productivity from employees who are struggling with the situation.
To avoid the major drawbacks, employers should consider investing in good equipment and offering in-person and remote workspaces to employees. With the option to choose, employees can address their concerns on their own and have a backup in case of a lost connection or an unsafe space.
But with hybrid work, there are also new legal implications that employers must consider before jumping in.
What are the Legal Implications of Hybrid Work?
It is important for employers to have policies or individual agreements in place regarding working from home. This can help both employers and employees understand their rights and obligations in regards to productivity, work hours, and availability. Policies should answer questions about who provides the necessary equipment and how that equipment should be used.
It is important to note that workplace safety concerns still apply, even in home offices. Ensuring safety might involve investigating spaces to ensure that they are ergonomic, and investing in high-quality ergonomic equipment. Any injuries that develop while at work, such as wrist pain from typing, may also be compensable. Just like they would be in a regular workplace.
Employers should also be preparing for issues arising around the return to work. If employers decide to require people to return to in-person work. They should prepare to do so by ensuring that the possibility of that is written into each employment contract. If not, employees might be able to claim constructive dismissal, since their working conditions were unilaterally changing.
Finally, if the work that employees are bringing home is confidential. It may be necessary for employers to take extra steps to ensure that office spaces are secure. Investing in locking file cabinets or company computers are potential steps that employers might take to protect against information leaks.
It is important for employers to do their research on hybrid workspaces and to be prepared for any issues that might arise.
Hybrid workspaces are here to stay. They offer flexibility, benefits, and connection in ways that were not seen before the COVID-19 pandemic. As they are increasingly popularised, employers should prepare for whatever might come their way.
If you are looking to switch to a hybrid workspace or to encourage your employees to alter their work style, contact a qualified employment lawyer at Achkar Law for help.
If you are an employer or employee with questions about a potential return to in-person work. Our team of experienced workplace lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at 1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected], and we will be happy to assist.
If you are a small or medium-sized company looking for full-service support with a same-day response, visit our CLO Program page for our strategic solutions.