Small firms

Changing your working arrangements? Five things you need to consider

As the country opens up, your firm is most likely considering the question of whether your people should work from home, or the office, or a mix of both. Our strategic partner Wesleyan lists five important factors you must consider.

While the best approach will vary depending on your organisation and your people’s needs, Wesleyan has identified five factors to think carefully about ahead of any changes you make to your company’s work culture and working arrangements.

1. Employment

With 26% of Brits planning to continue working from home, firms that do not adapt to the new ways of working could run the risk of losing their staff to competitors that are offering a more flexible approach.

On average, workers have been saving £44.78 a week by cutting down on things like commuting and buying lunch on the go.

Research also shows the benefits of working from home, as Brits are working an average of six hours’ unpaid overtime since working from home, compared to 3.6 hours for those that have never worked from home.

2. Liability

As the government’s general advice is “If you can work from home, then please do so”, if staff feel pressurised to go back to the office and then catch COVID-19, could this open the doors to employers’ liability claims?

Is a firm liable for an employee catching COVID-19 if it has requested its staff work from the office, even if the job could be completed from home?

While there is no definitive answer at this stage, the potential implications of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace and employer liability should not be ignored.

3. Mental health

Working from home and working from the office can both affect people’s mental wellbeing in different ways.

While one study found that one in five individuals said they enjoyed the office environment for the social interaction and have also struggled with loneliness during the lockdowns, other research found that nearly half of Brits preferred working from home than from the office.

Firms will need to ensure that they have the support needed for their employees’ mental health, particularly with statistics from a June 2020 survey showing that signs of depression have increased from one in 10 adults to one in five.

4. Environmental impact

The world has held a deep breath with much of the human population in lockdown – millions of people have not been driving to and from work or crammed onto trains.

As travel and social restrictions continue to lift, the question of whether firms really need to encourage their staff to return to the office – even if the employee is able to successfully work from home – is being widely discussed.

If people with remote-compatible jobs continued to work from home, it could result in saving 54 million tons of greenhouse gas, especially now that more cities are adopting low/zero-carbon emission zones.

5. Flexible hours and family life

Remote access has opened the doors to more flexible working, meaning that school runs can be done without the extra cost of kids’ clubs.

The average daily commute in the UK is 59 minutes, which means that people are saving on average almost five hours per week. This provides both a cost saving and greater opportunities for family interaction.

The hours gained from not commuting give employees more hours with families or for healthy life activities including exercise, which in turn could also improve their mental health and wellbeing, and reduce stress.

While there is certainly no one-size-fits-all solution to the most appropriate working arrangements following the pandemic, it’s essential that companies consider all relevant impacts to any possible changes in work culture before setting and applying a rule.

Wesleyan is a strategic partner of the Law Society.

Exclusive offer for Law Society members: PII funding offer

For a limited time, when you get your firm's professional indemnity insurance with Wesleyan Financial Services, you will be offered an option to fund your PII at a fixed rate of 1% APR with Wesleyan Bank*.

  • Low rate loan for PII
  • 1% APR representative
  • Funding available from £5,000 to £500,000

This is a limited offer available for PII policies commencing between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021. The rates after this period will return to the standard rate.

Read more about Wesleyan's PII offer

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