Hybrid working – what’s it all about and can it work in a school?

    Published: 10 February 2022

    So, what is Hybrid working? put simply Hybrid Working is a form of flexible working where an employee splits their time between the workplace and remote working (usually from home).

    When the pandemic hit and subsequent lockdown of March 2020 happened, we were thrown into the unknown territory of not working from our usual places of work. We had to rely more heavily on technology to teach and engage children and had to complete our usual jobs in new ways, we also had to find space within our own homes to simply complete work.

    For many, the struggle was real and it included fighting with partners or housemates for the better place in the house to have a conference call or be on camera, while also dealing with interruptions from our own children in a way we would not usually have to if they were in school, or we were at our usual place of work.

    However, many of us enjoyed working from home and enjoyed the benefits including the new 1-minute commute and the only traffic being crossing someone on the stairs or the ability to do a bit of housework in a lunchbreak instead of it all waiting for you when you got home.

    The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns really showed society as a whole, that there are a lot of jobs that can be completed from home and staff are not needed to attend the workplace every day to complete them, it also gave some a taste of how much they would enjoy working from home occasionally.

    There are also benefits to the school by allowing staff to work from home, while these will be different for each school, some could be as simple as helping to keep the school utility costs down, or managing the daily car parking wars. You could also be doing your bit for the environment by supporting the employee to lower their carbon footprint or you could really show you are supporting your staff’s mental health and wellbeing in allowing at home working, this in turn could show you how effective your staff can be when attending work.

    “This won’t work in schools; all of the staff are needed to be in schools all the time” I hear you say. Well, let’s think about that for a moment and challenge that thought. While there are parts of some roles that ‘obviously’ require staff to be in school for (such as teaching, or supervising the children during lunch breaks etc) does the entirety of that role need the staff member to be in school? Could a teacher’s PPA time be from home for example?

    Many office roles could also be completed from home, is an office admin/receptionist needed to be in work for the whole day or when you think about it at only key times? Or only on key days? could working from the office be split across the team? Would them working from home actually enable them to get work done without possible interruptions?

    The pandemic and lockdown has shown us that with the right technology most jobs can be completed from home, so need to challenge the thoughts of ‘if I cannot see a staff member working then they might not be doing their job’ as this view is simply not true.

    While there will always be that member of staff who pushes the boundaries and does not complete work required or misses deadlines, this behaviour is not necessarily caused by working from home, and this type of person should be effectively managed regardless of where they work from.

    As school leaders staff look up to you to make the tough decisions and manage staff, but they also look to you to help and support them when they need it. Not every member of staff needs the same support, and it’s important to remember that you do not need to be able to offer every member of staff the same support or flexibility.

    i.e. you may be able to offer one office support staff working from home 3 days a week, but you are not able to offer everyone in the office 3 days a week from home as you need someone in the office.

    So, I challenge you, the next time you get a request from a member of staff to change their work pattern and/or work from home, to not simply dismiss it due to previous beliefs of measuring staff on the amount of time they are in school and not on their output, but to genuinely consider how this can work and give it a go, if you show trust to staff by allowing them to work from home (either temporarily or permanently) I believe most will surprise you.

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