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Changing Places: Uplifting, measuring and ensuring hybrid work performance

A legal perspective on making the future of work, work


As we shift to the next phase of recovery, leaders’ focus is shifting from the question of ‘if’ they should enable remote work to ‘how’. In particular, how to ensure employee performance is uplifted, measured and managed across a hybrid workforce is a critical concern.

Enabling and managing productivity in a hybrid workforce is a multifaceted challenge – one that will rely on adapting management styles and skills, addressing issues of mental health and wellbeing, safety in the workplace and at home, and access to data needed to get work done.

Managing organisational risk and making the most of hybrid work demands that organisations are clearly aware of the industrial relations implications that inform and surround each.

This report is intended to guide organisations as they navigate this maze, highlighting the five top areas for consideration and when uplifting, measuring and ensuring performance in a hybrid work environment.

Top 5 considerations for uplifting, measuring and ensuring performance in a hybrid work environment

 

Consideration 1
Get clear on what flexibility means for your organisation and employees
Consideration 2
Manage hybrid workforces differently
Consideration 3
Make mental health and wellbeing a priority
Consideration 4
Adapt approaches to workplace safety
Consideration 5
Rethink data protection and privacy issues

Get clear on what flexibility means for your organisation and employees

Enforced remote working saw a blanket shift to working from home for many organisations. You may need to evaluate this flexibility on a more nuanced basis moving forward.

Understand your obligations

With hybrid working increasingly an expectation for workers, striking the right balance between flexibility and control and avoiding wage compliance risks will require a keen awareness of obligations under employment laws. Start by clarifying which of your employees are covered under a modern award and what your remuneration obligations are if employees work outside of ‘normal’ hours.

Increase your visibility over hours worked

Make sure you have a system in place to track when employees are working so that if flexibility is allowed, costs are kept under control. Knowing how many hours a day or week employees are working will be critical.

Manage hybrid workforces differently

In a hybrid environment, traditional modes of management are not going to cut it. Uplifting and adapting managers’ performance measurement approaches and communication skills will be fundamental to enabling performance of dispersed teams.

Measure performance in a simple and standardised way

Adapt how you are measuring performance to reduce the opportunity to hide poor performance while making identifying opportunities for improvement clearer for all.

Upskill managers around proximity bias

Without acknowledgement of the risk of proximity bias, and explicit steps being taken to mitigate against it, wider disparities may appear in your organisation.

Make mental health and wellbeing a priority

Navigating mental health in the workplace has long been a hugely challenging and sensitive topic for organisations and this has only intensified since the pandemic and the widespread adoption of remote and hybrid working.

Create capabilities to catch mental health red flags

Check you have systems in place that will help you detect and flag early warning signs of employees suffering a deterioration in their mental health.

Build awareness of mental health risks across the business

Make sure everyone, from the c-suite to managers, is aware of the specific mental health risks for those who are working in isolation or in remote work apart from their teams for extended periods. Ensure support is adapted accordingly.

Adapt approaches to workplace safety

Beyond implications for performance, employers have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of their employees at work, so far as reasonably practicable. These workplace rights [AL1] extend to their home environment.

Assess safety of employees’ WFH environments

Having a WFH policy and a checklist for employees to complete to determine if they have a safe working environment is critical. As is the opportunity to work from the office if they do not.

Get attuned to domestic and family violence risks

Point 2 paragraph: Working from home could increase the likelihood of DFV while also making it harder to identify, as employees are not coming into the office as regularly. Become aware of the signs and develop plans to address staff safety if DFV becomes a reality.

Rethink data protection and privacy issues

There’s little more undermining to productivity and engagement than when staff are unable to access the information they need to do their jobs in a timely fashion. But with this access comes risk.

Update data protection protocols in line with WFH realities

A new hybrid work reality calls for new protocols around use and sharing of company data and equipment.

Surveillance has limits

Anxieties over managing performance and productivity may result in additional surveillance. Ensure that monitoring of employees’ systems is in accordance with any legislative limitations.

Contact us

Sally Woodward

Partner, Industrial Relations and Employment Law, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 410 576 501

Bryony Binns

Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 1107

Norah Seddon

Australian People & Organisation Leader, Asia Pacific People & Organisation Leader, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 5864

Lawrence Goldstone

Lead Partner, Future of Work, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 424 299 014

Dr Ben Hamer

Lead, Future of Work, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 437 159 517

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