Making hybrid inclusive - key priorities for employers and Government

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The pandemic has prompted a lasting shift to more remote and hybrid working in many organisations. However, there remains a risk that this could exacerbate existing workplace inequalities, and lead to the emergence of new ones too.

This new research into the impact of hybrid working for different worker groups has been conducted by the Work Foundation and Chartered Management Institute, drawing on polling of 964 managers and 1,000 remote workers, and additional engagement with frontline advice services.

This blog explores the key findings of our research, including:

The majority of workers would prefer to spend their working week combining days on site and working from home, but employer plans do not always align with worker preferences.

  • Almost 9 in 10 workers don’t want to return to pre-Covid working patterns, and on average, they want to work remotely for up to 3 days per week.
  • 46% of managers expect staff to work in an organisationally hybrid way (some onsite & some fully remote), while 38% expect staff to work in an individually hybrid way, coming into the workplace at least once a week.

Yet, ‘traditional’ views of the workplace still stand, with managers expecting that access to stretch projects and workplace networks will decrease with remote or hybrid working, and exacerbate already existing inequalities in the workplace.

  • Disabled workers, women, parents and those with caring responsibilities are identified as at risk of facing particular challenges when working remotely, due to isolation from the office and potentially missing out on opportunities for learning and development.

Manager behaviour and decision making can be pivotal in enabling or limiting access to hybrid and flexible work.

  • Line manager support for remote working is considered particularly important by disabled workers, with 61% of disabled workers indicating they felt comfortable asking for remote working because their line manager was supportive of it.

These findings have informed a policy brief, to ensure that legislation and guidance from Government supports inclusive transition to hybrid working, and an employer guide, to ensure that managers and leaders can support inclusive hybrid working within their organisations.

Read the policy briefing

Read the employer guide

Recommendations for Government:

  • Develop an employer campaign and accreditation programme to promote inclusive flexible working practices. This should include strategies for consultation and engaging with staff around how time is spent when on-site, training for managers in managing a hybrid workforce, and the introduction of measures such as an organisational ‘right to disconnect’ policy. Employer case studies should be used to promote innovative practices in ensuring organisational changes are inclusive for different worker groups.
  • Require that large employers share information on their approach to flexible work and their progress in encouraging take-up across their organisation. Employers with more than 250 staff should be required to publish their flexible and hybrid working policies externally, monitor take-up of flexible working practices within their organisation across different worker groups, and regularly publish this data along with action plans to drive improvement.
  • Support the development of management capability in providing inclusive hybrid work. For example, modules on equality, diversity and inclusion could be added to the Help to Grow: Management programme, to ensure managers and leaders are trained on how to build and foster inclusive working environments.
  • Make flexible working the default position for all employees, with flexible options included in all job adverts, unless employers have a sound business reason for an exemption. The range of reasons employers may give to refuse making a job more flexible should be narrowed; and workers already in post should be adequately supported to appeal decisions without fearing reprisal.
  • Prioritise inclusive employers within funding and procurement exercises, by requiring that organisations with more than 50 employees and a turnover over £10m produce an up to date hybrid and flexible working strategy and action plan which prioritises inclusion as part of the application for any public procurement or Government grants.

Key Actions for Managers and Leaders:

1. Communication and consultation with staff is essential.

a) This needs to be a continual process, particularly in the context of a shift to hybrid working that may involve some degree of experimentation, to enable employers to understand and respond to employees’ needs and preferences.

b) Consider implementing a right to disconnect to ensure employees don’t burn out.

2. Do not underestimate the power of role modelling behaviour

a) Ensure managers are adequately trained and prepared to manage hybrid teams and role model hybrid working.

b) Develop action plans around hybrid and remote working which prioritise diversity and inclusion.

Read the policy briefing

Read the employer guide

Related Reports

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