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Webinar transcript: How to implement an effective agile and hybrid working arrangement
Mike Stevens 00:04
Thank you for joining our webinar which is how to implement an effective agile and hybrid working arrangement. I’m Mike Stevens, CEO at Praxis42. And today, I’m joined by Adam Clarke, Managing Director for Consulting, Ian Horsman from Atos, who we work with and provide services to, Hannah Maxwell, HR advisor at Birkett Long, a partner who we worked really closely with, and also Tom Paxman who’s the Managing Director for our digital parts of the business.
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As you already know Praxis42 is a technology led risk management business which consults and provides solutions to over 450 clients such as BT, Hiscox, Siemens, ITV to mention just a few. Agile and hybrid working as a topic which has become particularly relevant taking centre stage over the last year in many organisations. And with the help of our expertise and technology, we have been well positioned to help existing and new clients to meet the challenges that it presents.
For most, I’d say that agile and hybrid working was a work in progress, maybe something that was either being done or is there to be done. But the advent of COVID has made it something which has become reality. And what we’re trying to do is course to try and help you develop into a new way of approaching the subject and understanding the implications of it. So similar solution across the board.
Well, let’s find out. I’d like to welcome the first speaker, Adam Clarke, MD of Consulting Praxis42. He’s going to give us an overview of the current and potential future employer obligations for agile working Over to you Adam.
Adam Clarke 03:36
Thank you, Mike. So as sort of going to go back a slide Jodie. Just pick up where Mike left off. You know, agile or hybrid working is not a new concept. And many organisations pre COVID have actually got quite well-developed models for hybrid or, or agile working. These are often larger organisations who’ve thought about how, how this can impact them in a positive approach.
Now the impact of COVID-19 through all organisations large and small, whether they were sort of pro ante or on the fence about agile work, agile working all into the same boat, and we do what all humans have done adapt to the circumstances. And we’ve adapted fairly well. Now we find ourselves in step four of the the COVID roadmap, which includes people returning back to the workplace, who may have been at home for the better part of 18 months, which is no simple task really. Our colleagues are very used to working from home and many are asking questions about a balanced approach in the in the future. Next slide, please.
So, is agile hybrid work? These two terms seem to be the most popular at the moment in describing a working model where effective productivity can be undertaken from a workplace, which typically is the employers location, or it may be a client location, the home or at times remotely. So to ensure an original use effective productivity, agile working has to be underpinned by technology. As we approach our own model, we must be really mindful that this is not a one size fits all approach, and also that we may not get it right, first time.
This is a new thing for a lot of organisations. And, you know, we’re fortunate today that we’ve got Ian who’s going to be sharing how his organisation has, has approached it so far. But we all need to get together to work out, you know, how do we how do we do this? What’s the best way of doing that? And that’s all going to come through sharing ideas and, and collaboration. Next slide, please.
So if you’ve been tasked with developing an Agile Model, the first area of consideration is how does your executive team view this and what is their appetite for it because if if leadership doesn’t have buy into this approach is going to make it a very difficult challenge to try and effectively implement this throughout your your organisation, there’s a fine balance to be struck, to ensure that employees are happy, satisfied and motivated in what you’re trying to achieve. But also, we must be mindful of the business and ensuring that it has the resources to do this effectively and can maintain expected productivity is level or activity levels.
The good news story in this is that, we’ve been practicing it for the last 18 months, and have demonstrated that it can work even when we haven’t quite had the right equipment or the technology that we may have needed. But we’ve adapted. So if as an organisation, you can strike that right, right balance, the benefits to you can be great, you can potentially attract new talent, you can keep your employee retention levels high, you might even find that that you’ve got a more productive workforce that you previously had, because they’ve got that flexibility that they need. And you’re building a culture that’s based on primarily on trust, but also output lead rather than rather than time lead. However, if you’re not able to find that balance, then those potential benefits can become drawbacks.
You won’t attract talent, because talent will be looking for flexible arrangements, your employee retention may be impacted as they look at your competitors who may be more flexible in the approach, productivity may may decrease. And your culture will be based on a very old now, bums on seats approach when everybody will carry on looking at the clock at quarter five thinking when can I when can I get out of here, rather than focusing on what it was that I need to do today. Next slide, please. So to be able to manage an agile hybrid work plan going forward, we need to really develop a set of guidelines or a policy to enable your teams to make their own arrangements, your teams have effectively managed to transition through a pandemic, we should be able to trust them to make the correct decisions to transition back into the workplace. And for the future.
You know, the policy and the guidelines won’t be able to cover every situation that you’re going to have in the workforce. But it needs to enable your teams to apply consistent and fair methodology. But also, being able to take into consideration a case-by-case basis. The most effective way to do this is going to be through consultation with your workforce and if applicable their representatives, the more views that are listened to the more likely you will have a have a buy into this.
And let’s not underestimate how many people who haven’t been in the workplace for the last 18 months and will probably be very anxious about returning from a COVID perspective, but also anxious about how their employer or team is going to manage the return to work with many dreading the possibility of having to work having to come back to the office on a full-time basis. So, ensuring we keep open communication channels and promoting consultation will help manage this.
Once the policy guidelines have been developed, and again, they should be under constant review, we’ll need to assess to determine which model these teams will fit into which will typically be workplace based, home based or the agile hybrid-based approach. Next slide, please.
So, for agile working to be effective, we must give early consideration to the obvious enablers and barriers to this approach. Starting with the enablers, technology has been largely resolved during the pandemic. For those of you who have had responsibilities for trying to organise that getting a hold of laptop screens, and everything else has been a has been a challenge and prices have gone up. But people have managed to get the tools that they need to do the job.
We now need to build on that to make sure that in an agile environment, people have all the tools, but also the information that they need. And to be able to communicate effectively when they’re, they’re not in the workplace with their teams. Trust is probably the most important enabler into this, we hired people for a reason, let’s let them deliver for us. And if they happen to be most effective at 6am, or 8pm, so be it.
We need to make sure that there are clear expectations. Let’s not overcomplicate it, but let’s make sure that people know what is expected of them. And lastly, proactive management managers have had to adapt to working from home. Some have found it easier than others, the pandemic has needed managers to have extra tools in their toolkit. Some already had these, some have developed them. And some have made little progress. Yeah, we must consider the training of development needs so that all managers have those extra tools and applying your guidelines consistently, especially when we’re dealing with mental health and wellbeing. Looking at potential barriers, employees will have different family situations, some of those will have childcare responsibilities, which will always come ahead of work.
If we think about how many mothers out there have struggled to find work because employers only want full time nine to five hours. If that’s the approach that you’re taking, we’re missing out on a huge pool of talent. The working space both at home and in the workplace needs to be adapted to fit your new model. Teams have missed collaboration innovation sessions that you get out of being in the same place. So, if we’re looking at a hybrid model, we need to adapt the workplace to ensure more of that can happen. And equally if people are working from home, they need to make sure that they’ve got an effective workstation set up.
And lastly, boundaries, people will be working at different patterns, we need to set some some boundaries. So for example, if he manages working evenings, and you’re receiving emails, outside of the hours that you work, that there’s a clear expectation that you will not reply until you are back to work which will enable people to actually switch off. Next slide please. So, employee employers have always had and still remain a duty of care to look after the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees. And as a result, this must be considered as part of the Agile working model. At high level, a risk profile will enable you to identify which hazards need to be considered. common ones include the workstation.
Employees are responsible for their employees even when they are working from home. We must risk assess and determine what measures are required to reduce that risk. And for example, you may consider that until those measures are in place and can be demonstrated agile working can’t be supported. There are physical hazards. And employees may have had guidance on what to consider whilst working from home, such as working security, but they will need to be refreshed. And these hazards will need to be built into future training programmes.
Mental health and wellbeing are huge umbrella terms, which will impact all your employees at times, some more than others, and especially over the last 18 months. Speaking from experience, I have a very young family and at times during the lockdown, balancing work and childcare has been tough, a lot of people will resonate with that. And you know, we need to take those take those things into consideration as work needs to fit around our lifestyles and not just our lifestyles have to fit around work.
As I mentioned, the most important thing here is to give managers the tools to really understand mental health and wellbeing and to really try and take a positive approach to it. Many managers really want to support their teams but may simply not know how to how to start that conversation and what’s okay to talk about and what’s, what’s not okay to talk about.
So, we will need to develop that and for smaller organisation that’s a challenge. If we’re in a large organisation with resources, we, we can get that going quicker. But you know what we will, or what we no doubt, we’ll see if we can get their mental health and wellbeing approach, correct that we might find that sickness absence levels actually drop. And again, we find that productivity is impacted in a positive way.
And lastly, reasonable adjustments, we must consider these not only in the workplace for those who need reasonable adjustments, but also in the home if an agile working model is being considered, it would be very easy to discriminate, discriminate against somebody who needs reasonable adjustments, and say, well actually, you can’t agile work because you’re not prepared to do that in your, in your workplace, we must be prepared to consider everybody in all different situations.
So, if we go through and make sure that we’ve got a coherent policy in place and guidelines, enable teams to make the right choices, assess our workforce to see where they fall in and make sure that we’ve got hazards and risks covered. And we can positively approach agile hybrid working, then I really feel that it’s a model that can work well for us, but let’s make sure that we engage with our workforce, communicate with them effectively, and work together to move forward. Thank you, Mike.
Mike Stevens 16:35
Thanks, Adam. There are some really cool takeaways there. And what I’d like to do now is to hand it over to Ian Horsman, head of health and safety for Northern Europe at Atos IT services.
We’ll be discussing what considerations there are with an agile workforce. And it’s even our very own real case study for agile working. And we’ve been working with him and his expert team at us developing technology solutions that map into their policies and approach to this very subject in their organisation.
Ian Horsman 17:09
Thanks, Mike. So yeah, as Mike mentioned, so I’m just going to give you a brief sort of overview and a bit of an insight into what we’ve been doing around our hybrid and agile project here at us.
So, unlike most of you and your organisation’s, you know, I’m sure the idea of an office or agile working wasn’t high on the agenda. We all understand, you know, what, what it is whether it’s just full time working at home flexible basis, why it’s just perhaps a thing we do as and when, but then, you know, the pandemic happened, and a very new way of working for a lot of us was forced upon us.
Some would have managed better than others. But for most office type environments, there was an overnight change, and that for a lot of people was pretty alien. Organisations had to quickly determine how they were going to cope for what we initially thought, you know, would only be for a few weeks, or maybe a month or two, remember back then when we weren’t quite sure how long it would take.
And now here we are 18 or so months later, for Atos. It was, it was a initially it was a scramble, and it shone a huge light on our preparedness, business continuity. And for an IT company as we are ironically, our biggest issue was our IT infrastructure. It was more of a hardware issue rather than a digital issue. And many of our staff were using desktops in the office. And these needs to be replaced with laptops, plus many of our clients were relying on us to provide a similar solution for them. And so, laptops became a rare commodity for a while and there was a bit of struggle.
Secondly, to that was the peripheral equipment, you know, chairs, screens, keyboards, mouse, etc. But we quickly resolved that by setting up an office collection process, which was very, very successful. So, with all this as a backdrop, and from the success of mobilising our workforce to work on a flexible basis, Project bamboo was born. And the concept for bamboo was created fairly early on in the pandemic. So full credit to the senior management team at us, in evaluating that the landscape had changed and certainly for us, wouldn’t go back to the next slide, please.
Ian Horsman 19:30
So, here’s project bamboo. Obviously, bamboo, for obvious reasons, flexible, like all good initiatives, you first need to create an ambition. So, what you can see here, I’ll leave you to read it. But essentially, it defines what we want to achieve and why we want to achieve it. And it’s plus it’s the very beginning of the how, but for us, this is the key element.
We all need to start with an ambition set out the path that’s all We’ve done here. Next slide, please. So next we looked at what our commitments would be, and essentially putting a bit more sort of meat on the bones. And these have been split into two sections.
So firstly, we’ve got our bamboo aspirations, which are creating an inclusive workplace experience, enhancing team collaboration, embracing customer centricity, and leading with trust and accountability, which I’ll cover in a bit more detail later. But once we get those in place, hopefully that will then result in delivering our best from anywhere. And I guess it’s the point of an agile and hybrid workforce, designing a place to meet and connect. And I’ll cover and go into a bit more detail on that later, and then reduce our carbon footprint.
Now, you know, for most companies currently, decarbonisation sustainability, absolute career, and clear ambitions that we’ve all got. So it’s a key part of why we’re doing this as well. Next slide, please.
So next, we moved on to the how, and a global committee was set up to define the detail. And this was split into seven streams. So, you can see those on the left. And you’ve got the global team and local team RBU team there as well. I won’t go into all those details, but I’ll leave that for you to look over. But the seven streams that we’ve divided it up into operations, HR enablement interview, internal comms and employee engagement, virtual workplace, which is essentially it on our digital infrastructure, physical workplace, which is obviously housing and logistics, facilities management, health and safety, and environmental aspects, leadership and digital inclusion, if you just go on to the next slide, God and client engagement.
So once a global had defined their areas you see there, the local teams will then set up to replicate those streams and atlases divided into what we call RV, RV use, or regional business units, with us being Northern Europe and the local teams looked at the specifics and how it related to the different laws, regulations, and requirements and cultures, etc. For each of the views, and I think that Hannah will be sort of touching on a bit of those a bit later. Next slide, please.
So, over the next few slides, I just want to focus on two aspects of the project, our people, and our workplaces. So, this is the people’s perspective. Regarding our people, we’ve split it into the following categories there. But obviously there will be different priorities for different organisations. And these are ads here. So, flexibility adopting a work from anywhere philosophy. So, it’s not just home, it’s not just in the office, it’s work from anywhere. And certainly, for us as a business and one of the aspirations being customer centricity. It’s very important for us to be very close to our customers and encourage, you know, working with our customers, in their environment with their teams. And so that plays a big part in the work anywhere part piece.
Leadership so for me, this is crucial and obviously it’s twofold leadership. Firstly, you have leadership’s and it’s common guys, you know, leading from the front and you know, and our leaders putting putting their best foot forward and leading the way for everyone but but the important part here is also trust and empowerment so that the workforce forcefields trusted and empowered and ultimately their loyalty and commitment will increase. And obviously, hopefully, productivity will go up or and all of those good things. But this is very much a cultural issue and will take time, wellbeing so clearly a safe place to work, both physically and from a mental health perspective. And that is key. And the range of diversity networks that are within Atlas have been set up to support that across the board. safety, safety and security.
So that’s obviously from an individual safety perspective and security, also from processes and systems for our clients and our IT infrastructure. And then the last one is sort of individual and certainly for bamboo within Atos, there’s no forcing the issue here. You know, it’s not about quotas. It’s about enabling personal choice and providing the right tools for everybody and the right work environment for everybody. So next slide please.
So next two slides, look at the office and what it will become so many of our offices around Northern Europe are traditional workplaces with many traditional workstations, and not enough meeting rooms. Our measurement of the space we have shown us that we are typically operating at 70% workplace workstations and 30% collaborative meeting areas. So, our goal with bamboo is to reverse that approach to 70% collaboration, meeting and 30%.
So, the fixed desking. Not just that the collaborative areas should be mixed up as well. So yes, we’ll have our traditional meeting rooms, but also different collaboration areas to write different styles of working for the different teams, and also a range of furniture, and areas to represent the diverse nature of our operations. We also want to cater for those that just want to have a quiet place to work. With this in mind, we will of course, continue to use some of our offices normally, we do have large parts of the business where our employees need to and can only work from the office as they have done and continue to do so throughout the pandemic. So that won’t change. But where we can, we will and this will obviously require investment and won’t be a big bang approach. And this will happen over time.
You know, as leases come to an end or leases break, we’ll take on new areas, new buildings, etc. Next slide, please. So this is just a, an example of our fit out charter, and the sort of things that we’ve been considering when looking at our, our workplaces and how they will be designed. I won’t go into each of them in any detail. But you can see they’re the sorts of things that we’re thinking about. Next slide, please.
So just want to spend a bit of time talking about shine, and how we need to change the way it works for us. So we use shine we’ve been, and its predecessor we’ve been using for many, many years. And currently we can perform workstation assessments, from the office, home or client sites with different questions and resolutions for each scenario, which is all fine. But what we don’t have at present is a user-friendly approval process for managers to be able to determine if homeworking is safe and appropriate. And certainly, for bamboo, that is going to be key. So, in tech, we intend to roll this out across northern Europe, currently, it’s just purely in the UK, and potentially globally.
So, it’s important to design a process that it’s very easy to understand and to manage. Finally, we need to change the way that we manage our workers that work away from the office. At present, we fully contractually support home-based employees. But not those that work from home from time to time. You know, okay, that, you know, we may provide them a small budget for a laptop stands for keyboard mouse, but not much else.
So, the important it’s another cultural shift for the businesses is now supporting all of our workforce, you know, we’re asking our workforce to change their working habits potentially. And if we’re asking people to work away from the office, and wherever they’re working, they need to be supported. And if that is home, predominantly, then whether they’re contractually home based or not, we need to provide the right tools. And we also need to provide the right authorizations to ensure that they are able to do that. And if they’re not, then we need to ask them to remain working in the office to keep them safe. So next slide, please.
So finally, I thought I would just leave you with this as this is sort of a journey to a hybrid workplace that we’ve sort of looked at and used and talk to other people about. And it just sort of shows potentially a journey that could apply to you. It certainly applied to us. And I’ll hopefully get your thinking. So thanks very much. And back over to Mike.
Mike Stevens 29:13
That’s brilliant, and just shows the complexity and the things that you need to consider. And obviously there’s been a massive amount of effort put into establishing what is that as atlases approach and it’s great to be able to work with you on it. So just to now move on to the other part of the presentation with our other partner presenter from Hannah Maxwell, who’s the HR advisor consultant within Birkett Long, employment and Human Resources team, specialising in employment law. Hannah, we’ll be discussing the importance of keeping up to date with legal obligations being pragmatic in developing policies, the importance of consultation and being focused on positive outcomes in relation to hybrid working. So over to you, Hannah.
Hannah Maxwell 30:05
So, I wanted to start by talking around the stage for update on what this means for employees. And so as I’m sure all of you know, as of the 19th of July, England entered stage four of the government’s COVID response map. This means that the government has lifted most legal restrictions relating to the Coronavirus and that includes the requirement to wear a mask.
So, although lifting the restrictions is genuinely considered to be positive for employers, and the government has announced that it expects cases to increase and essentially, it’s still vital that we proceed with caution. So that means that employees employers need to consider their social responsibilities and whilst yes, the legal restrictions around Coronavirus have been lifted, employers continue to have a duty of care and a legal obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure the healthy health and safety of their stuff. And now the government has released guidance for employers. And broadly speaking, this guidance is broken down into six guides and they cover a range of workplaces.
Now the idea is that it informs business planning and operations across industry sectors. And for that reason, it does mean that each guide contains different advice. Now that may mean that for example, the guide for office might apply to you. But you might also have some stuff are out on site. And therefore you actually need to look at both of the guides and then work out what’s relevant for you.
There is some key messaging within all six guides, which I wanted to just briefly go through. So, the first is, you should continue to conduct regular risk assessments and take reasonable steps to manage the risks within the workplace as well as engaging staff about those arrangements.
You should also be looking at adjustments for those who might have disabilities or otherwise would struggle with the proposed changes that you’re that you’re looking to enforce. Then you need to look at good ventilation, the government has recommended opening windows the use of fans or air conditioning. And equally they’ve also suggested the use of a co2 monitor. And that’s to be used in different parts of the of the building, perhaps where ventilation isn’t as accessible for example in a corridor and then again, you need to look at measures a word of warning because the monitors are a consistent theme throughout all six of the guides. They are currently available in places like Amazon, but I suspect you know it’s supply and demand. If you don’t have one try and get on quickly the price will go up and I suspect, it will become more difficult to attain.
As we have been for the last 18 months the continuing message of frequent cleaning, promote hand washing the NHS has a range of signage you can print off and put around your offices and also maintaining the hand sanitising stations rather than just having one have multiple stations in accessible places.
Whilst it’s no longer legal requirement wear a face covering it is recommended unexpected that people will continue to wear a mask in crowded or enclosed places. I’m sure many of you have read that TfL have said the maths name mandatory well whilst on the tube. Ultimately, it’s up for employers. You need to act reasonably when determining your own policies. But for example, you know people in hospitality I had a client earlier this week. They’ve said staff based in their kitchen they’re not going to be required to wear masks however customer facing but they have said that that that would continue encourage employees to attend the Coronavirus vaccine, the vaccine is one of the most important measures to ensure our health and safety. However, with very few exceptions, you cannot mandate vaccine.
You can however, take steps to encourage the uptake of it. Now ways in which you might want to consider promoting that firstly develop a Coronavirus policy set out your position around having the vaccine and for those who choose not to have it how they will be treated or you know making sure that bullying and harassment for not having it would not be acceptable. And equally. There is a lot of information popping up on you know social media Facebook for it so On post saying that there are a range of side effects. These particularly are affecting Bane workers and young women.
There’s been comments around it affecting fertility. Now, none of this, as far as I’m aware has been scientifically proven, and is so called fake news that promoting NHS guidance will help to relieve some concern if anybody has heard about those remains. And I’m finally offering people paid time off to go and have that vaccine, particularly for those staff who perhaps are lower paid, taking the day to attend their appointment, if their pay is going to be affected, they might be less likely to attend.
Similarly, you know that there have been a lot of reports about people feeling poorly afterwards, particularly after their second dose. So again, considering whether it’s reasonable to pay people for the day, if they are off sick because of that vaccine.
Employers need to continue to turn away those who have COVID symptoms. So, anybody who has symptoms or lives for somebody who has symptoms, or perhaps has been told to self isolate, it’s part of the NHS test and trace that remains a place that is going to be reviewed as of the 16th of August. However, the position on that is wait and see. And otherwise reduce interactions between people whilst at work.
So, you know, encourage a gradual transition, people are going to be worried about returning to work immediately, full on five days a week, everybody. So actually, offering a gradual return will help to ease that. Also consider the use of screens of barriers, and the government also promoting back-to-back or side to side seating as opposed to face on. And also just being mindful of stuff wellbeing mental health, we have all lived with restrictions for the last 18 months.
They are now you know the Freedom Day has released those quite quickly. And that does mean that there is going to be a mixed response, some people are going to be nervous. And if upon their return to work, they do raise some concerns with you have a conversation, sit down, talk to them about those concerns and try and aggressive measures to encourage them back in.
And finally, just a reminder that for a lot of people, this is going to be the first time in over a year that they have been back in the office and therefore actually treat them like they are a new joiner, remind them of the policies and adapt them to any new working practices.
Hannah Maxwell 37:56
So now the restrictions of the East you know, there will be some employers who are keen for everybody to return back to the office. However, aside from the health and safety aspect, there have been a lot of staff who have worked successfully from home over the last 18 months. And they might still want to continue doing so.
So, if you say we need everybody back in five days a week, the likelihood is that you will certainly get a poor response from some people. Now, those of you who are CIPD members, you will receive for the people management magazine. So, you may have read the article on flexible working, but just to briefly go through that. There was a company called EY who conducted a poll on 1000 workers. And they found that four in five wanted flexibility as part of this survey, and it went as far as to say that nearly half of employees would consider leaving their role after the pandemic if their employer did not offer flexible working.
I think this raises the point that, you know, all of all employers are considering this demand for hybrid working. And ultimately, if as a company you choose, you know, we’re 100% office-based people might start walking with their feet. I guess the alternative is you might also find that there’s an influx of flexible working requests and then you have an administrative nightmare because you will have to deal with those. Now, some of you may be aware that the government is considering a flexible working bill, if enacted into law or workers would receive flexible working as a day one right except in exceptional circumstances. Exceptional Circumstances is yet to be defined.
At present, the current position is that flexible working is a statutory right but it’s after six months continuous service and you can only make one request every 12 months now, in my opinion, without trying to get too political, the government has been very clear around, you know, encouraging people back into work. So, I don’t think that the bill will pass. But it’s just something to be aware of that there is that potential. And now there are benefits to working from both in home and in the office and actually developing a hybrid approach might alleviate some employers concerns.
So perhaps looking at maybe three days in the office and two days at home, for example. Now, hybrid approach encourages healthy work life balance. And I mean, we know that it’s now a demand, particularly in the modern workforce. It improves staff morale, it impacts on your recruitment. People, perhaps it might be minded having a longer commute, if they only have to do it twice a week. And as I said earlier, that the fact is that your competitors are likely going to be offering some form of home working arrangement. And if you don’t offer a similar agreement, you’re going to have challenges with recruitment and with retention.
But of course, there are drawbacks, not every role will be able to work from home. And you might also find that, while some staff really want to continue with the home working, there will be others that they feel isolated, they want to come into the office. And you might also face challenges around managing staff and it raises questions around staff performance, or perhaps engagement.
The starting point is to talk to your staff to find out what they want, perhaps through a survey, or me meet with them one to one if you’re a smaller business. But I think the key is that you need to look at what your staff are saying to you and the needs of the business and try to find a balance that works for both implementation of homework and policy. And it can either be contractual or it can be part of a non-contractual policy. As Adam said earlier, agile working is not a new thing, it’s been around for a long time pre COVID. And normally agile policies are non-contractual, the benefit to which means that you can update your policies without the needs to concede to obtain prior consent from your staff.
The key to that is whether you are changing their normal place of work. Under Section One of the Employment Rights Act, you are required to state, contractually, the normal place of work and if that changes, then it needs to be contractual. And just a reminder, if you are going to allow home working, those who work from home will still be subject to the same rules, procedures, and standard of conduct performance as any other employee.
So just ensure your staff remain as involved as possible within your business. And this includes having access to business news employees going to events, they’re still part of your workforce, even if they’re not physically within the office.
Hannah Maxwell 43:21
I want to do a really quick update around 30 scheme changes. As I’m sure most of you know, who’s still using the furlough scheme. As of the first of July, there was a change in which the government reimburses employees 70% of furloughed, think it’s up to 2197 pounds per month, and then the employer would need to top up the remaining 10%. The employer is still liable for pension. And I, again, there’s a further change as the first of August.
So, the government will reimburse 60% up to 1875 per month, and then the employees have to have to contribute 20% And again, still National Insurance pension contributions. As it stands, the furlough scheme is set to end on the 30th of September.
And finally, I just wanted to talk about holidays. I think now that the now that restrictions have lifted, for the most part, I suspect you are starting to see an increase in holiday requests. However, certainly from last year, most people were hesitant to take the holiday because they couldn’t go anywhere.
Now I’m sure you’re all aware that there was emergency legislation that allowed employees to carry forward four of the statutory 5.6 weeks holiday into the following to leave yours. Now if you have allowed staff to take that forward, essentially really kicked the problem down the road, because all you now have to deal with is staff with an increase for their allowance this year potentially almost double what they would have had.
Now, I think, obviously, yes, it’s been a difficult 18 months. So, it’s really important that start taking a holiday to have that personal time off. Sadly, we are in the middle of a nationwide mental health crisis. And it’s not helped with the fact that we are going back to work, people are going to be stressed around that there’s going to be an increase in sickness absence. And on the flip side, you know, businesses are starting to get up and running again. And actually, do you want to have an influx of holiday requests, particularly, you know, over the school holidays or coming up to Christmas? You know, do you want to deal with that?
A reminder, really, that you can say no to a request, you can also ask your staff to take time off. So, I would say, you know, staff don’t like to be told when to take a holiday. So, give them the opportunity to do that. And perhaps if you look at it as a percentage, you might want to say, here’s your 100% allowance, you need to take 25% within the first quarter, and so on.
And if If staff don’t do that, then you can tell them when they’re taking their holiday need to say do you need to be reasonable about that. But if you did want to enforce holiday, unless otherwise stated within a contract or a collective agreement, the notice required is twice the length to the holiday being requested. I.e. if you ask for a date, well, they you need to give them two days’ notice to do so. Okay, thank you.
Mike Stevens 46:58
Thanks, Hannah. That’s great. Thank you for that, and lots to consider there. So, I’m going to handover to Tom now who’s going to look at somehow, we can find some solutions to some of those questions, which are probably going around your head in terms of how we manage this. So, I’ll hand it over to Tom.
Tom Paxman 47:18
Thank you, Mike. So as Mike said, I’m going to have a quick look at how technology can assist you in delivering your agile strategy and and certainly to help you manage those obligations that Adam had mentioned earlier.
So essentially, there are three key areas where you can utilise technology to train DSC home working agile working all or a combination of them to assess again, the home the office or agile, and to share documentation and information, whether that be policies, things like practical things like I test bouches, equipment, catalogues, etc.
So, the starting point is to get an understanding of who’s in scope. But essentially, as an organisation, you’ll only know what you know. So, there are two main scenarios with obviously, some grey in the middle, you have your arrangements are very well defined. So as a business, or an organisation, you know, who works where all the time, if you’re a smaller organisation, you’re more likely to have a really good grasp of where people are and large, larger organisation, you might fall into the second scenario where you don’t actually have a good understanding of who’s working where and when.
So, essentially, you need your technology solutions be able to help you in both of those scenarios. So, if you’re working arrangements are well defined, you need to push the right product resources and information at the right to the right people. And if it’s not well defined, you need to utilise that technology to first gather that information, and then dynamically push the right assessments, the right training resources and the right content to the right people.
You can see in front of you our platform, our learning and assessment platform shine, which I should just use to demonstrate the supporting technology. So first, let’s have a look at that defined workforce. So, if you know where everyone is brilliant, you can push to them the correct assessment, whether that be homework or assessment or workstation assessment for a traditional office environment, or an or an agile assessment or a combination of all three, depending on your approach.
As well as that you can allocate the user with the right track meaning, whether it be agile, traditional home, or again, a combination. So those users are easy to manage, and performance and resolution can be the technology, it’s in its comfort zone it can be it can be managed from there on in.
Where you are unsure of your workforce, you fall into that grey area where there are some unknowns. That’s where technology can really come into its own to help you define and find out the unknowns as it were. So, in that scenario, you need to establish where individuals are working. And as you can see here, this assessment is prompting the users to select which of the below descriptions best describes their primary workplace. And then from there, the platform can respond accordingly. Now, we call this a dynamic assessment. So, it changes both the question sets and the content assigned to the user, depending on how they respond.
I just wanted to show you an example of the workflows that you can have. So, we have the three outcomes to those questions, Office Home agile, you can have as many options as possible there. And you can build some hybrids of all of them as well. But let’s focus on these three outcomes that you’ve just seen.
So, let’s have a look at outcome one, the user selects that they work in the office, then the system can check is this a hot desk or their own desk. And once that is established, it can continue with the correct question set relating to either their hot desk or their own desk. And it will assign them either the traditional DSC learning as we call it a DSC policy, or it may I ask them, the hot desk questions set, hot desk elearning, hotdesking policy, as well as potentially an eye test voucher. And it will put them into groups defect, depending on how they answered whether it’d be their index, so you can keep track of them throughout their platform journey.
Alternatively, if they answered that they were home workers, it would go down the home route, again, a completely different question set home working elearning a home working policy may be access to an equipment brochure to purchase the kit that the assessment identifies they may need. And finally, the Agile answer, and this will push them down the Agile route, where they’d have questions related to Agile working, which could be a combination of all three agile learning and agile policy, again, potentially equipment or brochure. But essentially, the assessment needs to be configurable.
So it only asks appropriate questions for the working arrangements that the user has indicated that they’re working to, and allocates the right content to the right people that and it’s also worth noting that when I talk about configurable questions, it’s vital that your system is self-authoring so that you can take ownership of adjusting the question set, set your workflows so that it can be updated and changed at any time. Include your own policies, not just a generic policy, and any of your own documentation as opposed to anything that’s generic.
And of course, within all these questions sets, you can include questions around isolation and communication, which is potentially more apparent with the home and agile. So, it’s not just about the hard equipment and MSDS. So, depending on how they answer those types of questions, they can be pushed information on support services, and help lines etc.
So, we have here just wanted to illustrate how that can work with a quick video that shows you a user with no content allocated and how they can work through going from a no content to having the right stuff. So here you can see they’re launching a simple workplace assessment and they fill in the basic information, give the assessment a reference so that they know which environment it relates to. And I’ve kept this down to one question, which is the one we just saw.
So please, select the environment which best describes your primary place of work, agile and hybrid. They finish the assessment is closed off. And when the user goes back to their dashboard, they’ll be able to see that they have in fact been allocated, agile working and agile hybrid policy. And if you can imagine that scenario for the three workflows I just showed you. So, depending on how they’re answering these assessments, the correct question sets the correct training, and the correct resources can all be pushed to that user.
So, moving on from the use of completing assessment, the next core element of any technology use has got to be the data. Once you’ve gathered the data, it’s important that it’s accessed accessible in real time and very easy to interpret. So, what you can see in front of you is just an example of a couple of shots of data that you need from your platform. And certainly, what we provide in shine.
In the top, you have your live dashboard. And this shows you who hasn’t completed your assessments, you can toggle between different assessments you have, and you can act based on who hasn’t completed, the ones that have been completed, what you see are issues in Priority display. And from this dashboard, you can access all the information behind and that’s the second image in the bottom just shows you more of a drill down view, where you can access an individual and their assessment, you can see the audit trail of who’s done what, where and when. And you can resolve issues from within. And each person in the system will have their own dashboard, whether they be a manager relating to their team, a head of department relating to their whole department. Or if, if you’re a global administrator, you can look across the board and drill down into the individual areas.
One of the biggest barriers, and Adam mentioned barriers earlier to successful implementation of any agile strategy is going to the resolver engagement. So, the people who are pushed the problems to fix for users. So, closing actions, essentially, have been raised. And you need to have assurance that the issues identified are being managed. And here you have an example performance league table in front of you, that shows the individual action is and their performance that you can rank in order of performing and resolving or currently not performing. And it highlights activity. So, you can target individuals where there appear to be blockages where actions aren’t being resolved. And you can provide them with the appropriate support they need so that the inaction becomes managed proactively before it snowballs.
So, in summary, you need to first of all gear the system around the working arrangement knowledge that you have, if it’s well defined, push the right content to the right people. If it’s not well defined, use your system and technology to gather the information first, and then push the right content to the right people automatically, it’s important that you shouldn’t have to do this manually.
So, you complete assessments, then evaluate what information and content people need, then go back into your system and allocate it accordingly. You want the system to work intelligently and dynamically so that the platform and the assessment adjusts as they’re asking their questions, and it’s pushing the right question set and information to those individuals to help you glean the information you need. The data and information in the form of the assessment output is key to providing any managed workplace adjustments for employee employees. And this is where the unknowns become knowns that can then be managed, and any reasonable adjustments made.
And finally, your system needs to be able to highlight any blockages. So, gathering information is not enough. The information must drive your action and resolution and you need to be able to manage that effectively. Thank you.
Mike Stevens 58:42
Thanks, Tom. So, as you can see this, there’s a way through to achieve your successful agile and hybrid arrangement that takes into account all the factors covered today. And hopefully, that’s helped you to think about how you go about your strategy, or it confirms your thinking. And what’s clear is that some form of agile or hybrid working will be inevitable in your workforce. And how that is controlled, managed, implemented, and reviewed, will need some careful consideration and stakeholder involvement.
The theme I got was the consultation is pretty key. For several reasons too, to help with the people, elements of what we’re trying to achieve here not just about the legal requirements of we’ve really used up quite a lot of the time here in terms of what’s available.
We’ve had some questions in from a number of the participants and we will commit to actually coming back to you individually on those questions. What I can say is that what we want to try and do is to help you with all the information that’s available here by providing a tip at the end of this will send you your CPD certificate and make sure that if there’s any other support that you need, then please let us know and we’ll be happy to help We’re always willing to have a have a chat about things and to support you.
I’d like to thank all the participants, all the participants, and I can see from the list of these old friends there, there’s some existing clients. There are some competitors, which was taken as a compliment. Thank you, guys, to join us on this webinar.
The next webinar that we’ve got coming up is one on how to utilise technology to improve learner experience, immersive learning, so a bit of a bit of that will be quite interesting in terms of our innovation into that world of virtual reality and what that means to improving health and safety performance. So, thanks again for the panelists. Wish you all well, if you’ve got any travelling to do then I wish you well in your travels and stay safe, take care, and many thanks for attending.
This webinar aims to help organisations understand what their obligations are when it comes to agile and hybrid working.
Agile and Hybrid working is a topic which has become particularly relevant, taking centre stage over the last year in many organisations.
This webinar will provide an insight into understanding what needs to be considered when organisations are forming their agile or hybrid working approach, so it works not only for the business, but for the employees too.
Topics covered include:
- Overview of current and potential future employer obligations for agile working
- Considerations with an agile workforce
- The HR considerations for agile working
- Using technology to help manage agile working
Adam Clarke | Managing Director (Consulting) | Praxis42
Adam is Managing Director of Consulting at Praxis42, having started his career as an apprentice in Occupational health & safety nearly 20 years ago. Adam has previously worked as a Health and Safety Consultant, Trainer and Director.
Adam is passionate about improving health & wellbeing, empowering ownership of risk and utilising technology to make compliance simple. Adam works with his clients to understand the organisations challenges and then supports them in understanding their compliance needs, tailoring bespoke solutions to fit.
Tom Paxman | Managing Director (Digital) | Praxis42
Tom is Managing Director of Digital at Praxis42, having started his career at Praxis42 as Marketing Director 17 years ago. This depth of experience means Tom has a unique insight into compliance and risk management, having worked with our many partners and clients over the years, to tailor the right service and products to their specific needs.
Toms focus on using technology to support our customers compliance needs, has led to many innovations in our service offering, including our new risk management platform SHINE. Tom’s focus is always our clients and providing them with what they need make their risk management simple.