Hybrid & home working: are your arrangements formalised?

Many employees continue to work from home or work flexibly post the pandemic.  Some are because people have had to, in other cases, it has simply become the norm.  

What we are now seeing though is an increase in frustrations by employers when staff who are working from home are not meeting role targets or performance expectations.  Our first questions are normally to understand what arrangements are in place and how those are being managed.  We are often finding the arrangements have simply evolved with time and nothing formal has been put in place.  There are many risks with this with the first being that people will be working on their interpretation of the arrangements!

If you are in this situation then our recommendation is to take the time to review your working arrangements.  Decide on what is working well and what could form the basis of your forward practices.  Consider what variations to terms and conditions need to be put in place around any changes to place and hours of work.  From there, develop clear procedures and guidance to minimise any risk of misunderstandings.  Factors to consider include;

Costs – clarifying who is responsible for office setup and ongoing costs like heating, power and internet.  Determination EE004 from the IRD applies from 1 April 2023 enabling employers to reimburse additional costs up to $27 per week tax-free for employees who work from home.  The amounts that can be reimbursed tax-free depend on what the employer versus the employee is providing.

Technical Infrastructure & Security – how well set up is your business and your employee for remote working?  Your IT provider can check your security, your employee will need to make sure they have access to high-speed internet and that the computer and other job-related materials are not available to others in the house.

Safety – ensuring a safe working setup is in place and being maintained will be important to mitigating the risk of injury or longer term issues such as occupational overuse syndrome.  Requiring employees to complete a homeworking risk assessment and provide photos to show the suitability of the setup help form part of quality health and safety risk/hazard management procedures.

Communication – in agreeing hybrid and homeworking arrangements consideration should be given to setting expectations around working hours and availability and attendance at the workplace so communications and collaboration can be maintained.  Consideration should also be given to performance expectations, record keeping and what collaboration tools best help such as team, zoom and messaging apps.

If you need any help with formalising your flexible working arrangements or reviewing your performance management practices for hybrid/homeworking staff get in touch with a member of the Grow HR team