Thriving in the virtual workplace

Daisy Lavington shares the main talking points of a recent webinar concerning changing employment patterns in a post-COVID-19 world

Virtual workplaces are a concept we all need to grapple with. In light of this, IEMA held a ’Thriving in the Virtual Workplace‘ webinar on 12 May (bit.ly/3tNh5zc).

According to the Office for National Statistics, 12.5% of the UK’s workforce worked from home in April 2019; by April 2020 that figure had risen to 46.6%. At first, sending employees home was the government’s emergency solution to stop COVID-19 spreading in workplaces. As we emerge from lockdown, full-time virtual working, or a hybrid office and home approach, seems to be the way many are proceeding.

The webinar explored a company case study and provided a legal perspective on working arrangements post-lockdown. Nick Bloomfield, PIEMA, a member of the IEMA East of England Region Committee and global lead for quality and environmental certifications and standards at DXC Technology, shared his experiences of a ‘virtual-first’ approach. At DXC Technology, offices are being transformed into spaces for hot-desking and collaboration, and employees will primarily continue to work from home where possible.

Shona Newmark, partner at Jones Chase Employment Lawyers, gave an overview of things to consider when continuing with a virtual-first approach in the long term. Key messages included:

  • Implement an adequate home working policy and risk assessment protocol
  • Terms of employment and contracts may need updating – expenses, insurance, security, technology, tax and so on
  • Employees should be flexible: returning to the office for ‘keep in touch’ or training days will be valuable.

A further point for consideration is how to enable employees to thrive in an increasingly virtual workplace, and avoid creating a divide between long-term home-based employees and site-based employees who perform immobile roles.

Daisy Lavington, AIEMA is a member of IEMA Futures and the IEMA East of England Region Committee.

Image Credit | Shutterstock
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