Home Working Post Pandemic 

The Helens

The Helens

Since the pandemic, we’ve predictably seen a significant increase in the number of flexible working applications to formalise working from home arrangements, the argument being that ‘it worked in lock down so why not forever?’ 

Except that for many employers, it didn’t really ‘work’. Working from home during lock down was a necessity – although the basic work was being carried out, culture, morale and development came to stand still.  

Without the ability to nurture culture and development, businesses will start to stagnate and then fall backwards. 

How can employees be effectively trained, managed, and mentored over Zoom?  

Quick answer – they can’t.   

Employers shouldn’t underestimate how much employees learn just by watching their peers carry out their role, answer the phone, speak to clients, act in meetings.  None of this can be learnt remotely. 

Employers should also check employee contracts – most will state the office as being the place of work. Employers therefore have every right to expect employees to work from the office regardless of whether the employee insists otherwise.  

Further, employers should remember the following statutory reasons for being able to reject a FWA (these statutory reasons remain following the 2024 legislative changes to flexible working): 

  • it will cost too much; 
  • the employer cannot reorganise the work among other staff; 
  • the employer cannot recruit more staff; 
  • there will be a negative effect on quality; 
  • there will be a negative effect on the business’ ability to meet customer demand; 
  • there will be a negative effect on performance; 
  • there’s not enough work for the employee when they’ve requested to work; and / or 
  • there are planned changes to the business i.e. the employer plans to reorganise or change the business and thinks the request will not fit with these plans. 

We always advise agreeing to a trial period before rejecting an application. This would be considered a reasonable response should a rejection for the application lead to a claim being made.  

And regarding the ‘day one right’ to apply for flexible working – any employer has the right to question an employee’s commitment to the job they have just accepted if they walk in on their first day and apply to change their hours.  

Commitment looks the same even if employment legislation doesn’t. 

If you need any support on flexible working applications within your organisation or any other HR issues, do get in touch – thehelens@complexhr.co.uk

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