As agile working becomes increasingly commonplace among UK businesses, it is important for employers to be aware of the issues to consider before introducing agile working arrangements.
If you are planning to implement agile working policies, here are our top tips for balancing the expectations of employees with operational demands.
1. Consider business processes and requirements before introducing a policy – this is not just a box ticking exercise.
- It is important to ensure that there is sufficient buy-in, particularly from senior management, to encourage staff to take advantage of the arrangement.
- Think about the eligibility criteria for agile workers. For example, agile working may not be appropriate for support and/or administrative staff
- Consider how the business will operate once you have gone agile. How will you manage office communications, training, team and client meetings etc?
- Consider a trial period to gain employee feedback on the policy and test whether the approach is right for the business.
- Ensure that you have adequate technology to support what you are trying to do.
2. Produce a well drafted policy which outlines the key principles and how the arrangement will work in practice.
- Be objective and clear on the circumstances permitting agile working – examples can be helpful.
- Include a detailed procedure for agile working requests (i.e. how should a request be submitted, who will be responsible for approving the requests).
- Outline your expectations for those working remotely.
- Consider whether other policies need updating in light of employees working on an agile basis, e.g. confidentiality, IT & communications and health & safety policies.
3. Be careful when approving / rejecting agile working requests.
- You don’t have to offer agile working to everyone but you should beware of accepting requests solely based on factors such as child care responsibilities, seniority and living circumstances. This can lead to allegations of direct or indirect discrimination.
- Implement a standardised approach to agile working. Seek to avoid inconsistencies between different managers, teams or departments
4. Remember your data protection obligations.
- Consider additional training for agile workers on their (and the company’s) data protection obligations
- Carry out a data privacy impact assessment for agile employees.
- Take appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure compliance.
5. Consider the health and safety issues associated with agile working.
- Conduct a risk assessment for remote workers (this can be by way of a self-assessment checklist).
- Remember that you remain responsible for any equipment you supply. An agile worker’s own equipment remains their responsibility.
- Think about mental as well as physical health – consider steps to monitor work, stress levels and ensure agile workers continue to be integrated into the team where possible.
Whilst agile working can be a positive step for employers and employees, getting it wrong can be costly. We can help you to draft a suitable policy. And if you have a complicated agile working issue, consider taking advice at an early stage. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article.
If you have any questions in relation to this topic, please contact a member of the employment law team at Fox Williams or speak with your usual Fox Williams contact.