‘Freedom Day shouldn’t signal a mass return to workplaces’

business

Following the Government’s updates on restrictions following 19th July, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development spoke to Business Leader.

Freedom Day shouldn’t signal a mass return to workplaces, but it could signal the start of greater freedom and flexibility in how, when and where people work. It should be down to individual organisations, consulting with their people, to agree working arrangements after the end of restrictions.

Regardless of any changes to official guidance from 19 July, employers should continue to ensure that they have the necessary measures in place to give confidence to workers that their workplace is safe. This can include changes to desk spaces, shift patterns to help workers avoid busy times on public transport and use of one-way systems to reduce staff contact while the risk of infection remains. This will be particularly important in these early weeks while the vaccination programme is still ongoing.

Businesses shouldn’t rush to simply revert to how they used to work now we have experience and evidence that it can be done differently, and with positive impacts on employee health and wellbeing, inclusion and productivity.

People generally want a mix of workplace and home working, and the possibility of more choice in their working routines, meaning hybrid working can provide an effective balance for many workers. Employers should be trying to understand and support individuals’ preferences over more flexible working arrangements where possible, balanced with meeting the needs of the business.

However, not everyone can work from home. Organisations should also look at increasing flexible options working for those who can’t work from home using different types of flexible hours arrangements. This will help avoid the creation of a two-tier workforce where home and hybrid workers have considerable flexibility while many other employees have very little.

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