A Guide for Employers on Flexible Working Laws in the Hybrid Era

The concept of flexible working is evolving rapidly. With new regulations reshaping the way employers handle requests, it's crucial for organisations to not only adapt to legal changes but also to lead hybrid and flexible workplaces effectively.

Benefits of Flexible Working

According to Government research, 95% of employees who work flexibly believe it has positive consequences for them and employers who offer flexible working also report benefits, including lower turnover of staff, reduced absenteeism and an increase in productivity.

For businesses, staff retention is important for maintaining quality and containing costs, and flexible working has been proven to support employee experience and help widen the talent pool for employers who are recruiting. Evidence also shows that flexible working arrangements can effectively reduce absence.

For employees, flexible working allows them to better balance their work life with their other commitments, for instance, it can enable people with caring responsibilities to stay in work and enable a phased return to or exit from work.

New Flexible Working Law

The new Flexible Working Law that comes into effect on the 6th April 2024. Here’s some simple steps to help your business prepare for the changes:

1. Review Policies and Procedures

As employers prepare for flexible working changes, a holistic approach is essential. The need to review policies and procedures extends beyond compliance; it's about creating an environment where diverse teams can thrive. This is especially important in hybrid and flexible workplaces where adaptability is key to success. Where possible, organisations should offer beyond the legal minimum as a way to help create an inclusive culture, and build loyalty through pro-active flexible working.

2. Streamline Processes

Accelerating response times to flexible working requests is not just a legal requirement; it's a strategic move to meet the expectations of a workforce that values flexibility. This streamlined approach aligns with the dynamics of hybrid work environments, ensuring agility in decision-making.

3. Train Managers

Training managers to handle flexible working requests is not just about legal compliance; it's about equipping them to lead diverse and distributed teams effectively. Managers must understand the nuances of remote and hybrid work, fostering a culture of trust and collaboration.

4. Remain Open-Minded

In the context of leading flexible working teams, cultivating an open-minded approach becomes even more critical. Training managers to be open to change and having the courage to try a new way of working is paramount for getting the most out of remote and distributed teams.

5. Consider Trial Periods

In the hybrid era, where the dynamics of work are evolving, considering trial periods for proposed flexible working patterns becomes a strategic move. This not only allows for practical adjustments but also aligns with the experimental nature required to lead successful hybrid teams. For this to be effective, clear expectations need to be set, and metrics need to be agreed on so both parties can determine the outcome of the trial period.

6. Refusing Requests

Rejecting requests for flexible working requires careful consideration. Employers should base refusals on the current and future needs of the business and it's people, and the changing needs of a diverse workforce, while ensuring they are legally compliant.

7. Acas Code

As The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures undergoes updates, employers should view it through the lens of leading hybrid and diverse teams. The revisions should be integrated into practices that go beyond legal considerations and contribute to the creation of an inclusive and adaptable workplace culture.

8. Leading Hybrid and Flexible Workplaces

The pandemic has forced businesses to rethink leadership approaches. Hybrid teams, comprising remote and distributed employees, demand a leadership style that goes beyond the one-size-fits-all mentality. Building trust, fostering relationships, and leading diverse teams require experimentation and a willingness to adapt. Leaders also need to ensure that these behaviours carry through to peer level as well, and make sure that people's working patterns are widely known to help set expectations and improve employee experience.

9. Flexible working & Accessibility goes hand in hand

The acceleration of digitalisation, especially post-Covid-19, underscores the importance of online accessibility. In a world where people are increasingly searching and applying for roles online, and digital learning is on the rise, making websites accessible is no longer optional. Ensuring the usability of online platforms is not only a legal requirement but also a strategic move to attract and retain a diverse talent pool. With one in five working age citizens having a disability, businesses must embrace online accessibility to remain competitive in the evolving landscape. By being well informed about the differing needs of all your people, not just your disabled talent, you will help to ensure they have the right access and tools they need to work effectively hybrid and flexibly.

Connect Three's Advocacy for Fair Work

At Connect Three, we are strong advocates for The Scottish Government’s Fairwork Convention. The vision of providing fair work for all aligns seamlessly with the principles of inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. We believe in leveraging the opportunities presented by hybrid work models to bridge existing gaps, particularly in disabled representation. By fostering accessible and inclusive workplaces, we not only strengthen internal cultures but also gain valuable insights that enhance our external offerings.

Adapting to the hybrid era involves creating a workplace culture that values flexibility, inclusivity, and diversity. By embracing these principles, organisations can not only comply with flexible working laws but also thrive in the dynamic and diverse future of work. 

Download our Flexibility Working Guide for more help and guidance on the incoming Flexibility Working changes.