Office workers reluctant to return to work full-time post-pandemic
A recent survey carried out by Campaign showed that there is very little appetite among office workers in the advertising, marketing and media industry to return to full-time office working, following the period of enforced homeworking caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The majority of respondents said that they would favour a partial return to the office, working 2 or 3 days a week there and the rest of the time at home. However, around a quarter of respondents said that they would prefer only to commute to the office for occasional meetings, and around 10% said that they would be content to work from home full-time.
A move to increased home working will be welcome to employees and employers alike, with many businesses deciding to reduce their office space or scrap their offices altogether. Nonetheless, it has the potential to cause a number of employment law issues, such as:
Reduced discretion in responding to flexible working requests
it will undoubtedly be more difficult for employers to turn down flexible working requests for homeworking on statutory grounds when it has already proven possible (and in some cases, more effective) for employees to work from home. It will also be more difficult to justify working practices which are prima facie indirectly indiscriminatory on the basis of not allowing homeworking, as it will be harder to argue that homeworking is not possible and therefore unavailable as a less discriminatory means of achieving a legitimate aim.
Potential difficulty in appraising and managing employees
remote working makes it more difficult to oversee and supervise direct reports, which makes it more difficult to appraise them. Employers may need to think about changing performance objectives so that they are based on more tangible deliverables instead of “softer” behaviours which can only be witnessed in person. That said, there will also need to be systems in place to prevent and manage bullying and harassment, which may just as easily take place online or over text message/Whatsapp as in person.
the above difficulties with oversight may make it more difficult for Senior Managers under the Senior Managers and Certification Regime to discharge their responsibilities, and “virtual workarounds” will need to be found to support them. The above comments on assessing performance will also be relevant when it comes to adapting the certification process for full-time remote working.
lack of contact with others outside their own household and physical distance from close colleagues may have a detrimental impact on employee wellbeing if not mitigated. Employee “socials” will probably be far down the priority list of most businesses seeking to move to remote working, but will be more important than ever in keeping employees well and happy. Businesses should consider how best to ensure that employees are still able to socialise with colleagues remotely and gain support and supervision from their teams.
The above are just a few examples of the sorts of issues that could arise, and no doubt more will arise over time. Businesses will have to continue to respond quickly to these developments, just as they did when the Covid-19 pandemic first broke out.
If you would like to discuss the above issues further, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Kemp Little.
Find all our Covid-19 related advice here.
Share this blog
- Adtech & martech
- Artificial intelligence
- EBA outsourcing
- Cloud computing
- Complex & sensitive investigations
- Cryptocurrencies & blockchain
- Data analytics & big data
- Data breaches
- Data rights
- Digital commerce
- Digital content risk
- Digital health
- Digital media
- Digital infrastructure & telecoms
- Emerging businesses
- Financial services
- KLick DPO
- KLick Trade Mark
- Open banking
- Software & services