As a result of the pandemic many of our workforce remain working from home. As covid guidance changes our working locations and arrangements can be relaxed and many employees will return to their previous work arrangements. Contractually, work locations will remain unchanged and physically employees will be expected to return back to their normal office base for their full contractual hours.

However, we acknowledge that a large percentage of employees have adapted to working from home and would be keen to consider a more flexible approach going forward (this has been confirmed by the survey undertaken in October 2021).

The Hybrid Working Guidance is being introduced to allow employees to request to continue working from home whilst the Hybrid Working Policy is progressed and agreed. We will identify posts (based on those that are office based) that can operate on a hybrid arrangement. This will be recorded in resourcelink against the post. It will also be used as part of the recruitment process to improve flexible working opportunities where this is possible.

Employees will be able to submit a request to Opt In to Hybrid Working on an individual basis. Individuals who do not make the request will be expected to return to normal working location/arrangements as soon as Scottish Government guidance allows.

Where a post is identified as a Hybrid post, then it would be assumed that all requests to Opt In will be approved. Whilst Opt In requests will be approved, it may be that the number of working days spent in the office requires some discussion. This will be determined based on service delivery needs, for example, attendance may be required to facilitate a rota. This may mean that some employees require to attend the office each week for a minimum number, or certain days, whereas others may have more flexibility.

It would be the intention that this Opt In arrangement would be reviewed on an annual basis (or amended subject to agreement of the Hybrid Working Policy) at your Good Conversation meeting with your manager or it can be reviewed earlier, if requested, due to a change in circumstances. To Opt In to this guidance you should complete the Hybrid Guidance Opt In form in Myview. This will be approved/rejected by your line manager. If the request is rejected, the manager will require to provide justification for the decision. In the first instance, rejections will be referred to the next line manager for review.

In making any decisions, service delivery must take priority, although Occupational Health advice must also be considered where relevant.

The guidance and voluntary implementation, will be reviewed by officers and trade unions by the end of summer 2022. This will offer an opportunity to review what's gone well, what could be improved and process arrangements.

As a Council of the Future, not all roles require to be worked the traditional 9am – 5pm. Our focus should be on the needs of our customers. Flexibility in working hours and locations improves work life balance, which in turn improves performance and ultimately should provide a better service to our customers.

Using the right technology allows you to work from any location. The concept of hybrid working is wider than just location and can bring flexibility in working hours/patterns, reduce commuting costs and allow for a better work/life balance.

Not all jobs will lend themselves to hybrid working due to the nature of the services being delivered. This guidance applies to a large proportion of the workforce who work in posts that historically were predominately office based.

This guidance will be subject to ongoing review and finalised by implementation of a Policy at an appropriate stage.

  1. Table of contents

Workstyles and Where you can work from

There are a large percentage of previously office based posts that we know can be worked in a more flexible way. This guidance allows you to request to be a hybrid worker as opposed to an office based worker. If you are in any doubt if your post can be worked in a hybrid/flexible way please contact your manager in the first instance

If you Opt In to be a hybrid worker this will allow you the flexibility to work from home in addition to any Falkirk Council building, café or other suitable location using appropriate technology supplied by Falkirk Council. Please be aware of your surroundings when working outwith Council premises as not all work tasks will be appropriate to be undertaken in a café or other public location. Confidentiality must be maintained. Your contractual working base will remain unchanged.

Falkirk Council office spaces will predominately be open plan. If you encounter any issues/difficulties working in this environment then you must raise your concerns with your manager in the first instance.

Hybrid/Flexible Worker

Predominately working from home or across the Council area. Other locations could include Council offices/buildings, meetings in leisure centres, cafes, client homes to meet the needs of the service being delivered. There will likely be the need to attend offices/HQ to catch up with paperwork at a touch down point or to maintain contact/relationships with team members. The amount of time spent working from home/office/other locations will vary depending on job tasks and also personal circumstances ie available space at home. In exceptional circumstances working from home for all working hours may be considered, this would be in consultation with your line manager and Human Resources.

There will be some posts that require an office presence each week from team members on a rotational basis and others where attendance at team meetings or one to ones may be the only requirement to come into the office. The guidance document How to request a hybrid working pattern provides more detail on this.

Fixed/Office Based

All working time spent in the office or location determined by the role.

Home Working

This differs from Hybrid Working as in this arrangement it is likely that you would work from home for all working hours. This is to support you continuing to work and is likely to be considered in consultation with Occupational Health. A formal arrangement can be applied for using the homeworking application form.

Flexible Working

This differs from Hybrid Working as Flexible Working requests usually change the number of hours worked, or work pattern on a permanent basis. Flexible working requests include requests for Part-time working, Job-share, Compressed hours and Term Time hours. Further information in relation to these options is contained in the Flexible Working Policy.

Expenses

It is for each employee to decide to Opt In or not to the Hybrid working arrangement. Employees adopting a Hybrid working arrangement are responsible for any home costs/expenses eg. broadband/heating/electric charges and no expenses will be paid for these costs.

Tax Relief when working from home

Any employee working from home may be able to claim tax relief. This is something that you need to claim as an individual and is not processed by Falkirk Council. To find out more information and whether you are eligible please visit Gov.uk

Appropriate Insurance when working from home

Any employee working from home should ensure that their Home Insurance provider is aware that they are working from home for a percentage of their working week. Falkirk Council equipment is insured by the Council and your home should not be used for meetings, therefore there should be no impact on your premiums.

Advising mortgage provider/landlord when working from home

You must ensure that you are not in breach of any covenant or agreement by working from home. For example, before working from home, you should check the terms of any mortgage, lease or rental agreement and, if necessary, obtain any permissions required to work from home.

Energy Use

To help minimise your personal carbon footprint and improve the quality of your working and living environment there are some energy saving tips that you may find useful.

Attending meetings

Where possible, you should use technology to engage/communicate and avoid mileage, travel time or expenses. Where a meeting is required you should use MS Teams or other approved application. If a physical meeting is necessary at a location different to your base location you should arrange to use a pool/fleet car, where available/appropriate. Meeting rooms can currently be booked via outlook.

Through MS Teams there is an option to create a 'virtual' office to allow for collaboration with team members whilst continuing to work on other tasks, just as though you were in the office. Teams should consider if this may be of benefit to the team and if so, how frequently.

It is acknowledged that for some meetings, and for some individuals/groups, the preference may be to meet face to face and consideration needs to be given to doing so, where considered appropriate, for example; interviews, line management support/good conversations, team meetings.

Booking a desk

Hotdesks are available in most office locations. Currently, all employees should book a desk at their base location, although in time, Hybrid workers will have more flexibility to work from whichever location is convenient to you and your role/duties/schedule.It is likely that your ‘base’ location will have an area available for your team to book to allow team members to sit in close proximity. You should ensure you book a desk in advance of attending an office space.

When booking a desk in your normal ‘base' location, you should try and book a desk within your team area although try and sit at a different desk when you can. Where this is not possible, you should book a desk as close as possible to your team area. Your booking should be limited to the time required in the office. You should cancel desk bookings if your arrangements change or you leave early.

Reasonable working locations

It is accepted that you may live in a different town/area as your home base, however all employees should be able to travel to their work location within a reasonable timescale when required. Ideally you should be able to travel to your work location from home with 2-3 hours. If this is not the case, then you need to have a discussion with your manager and HR in relation to your proposed location.

If working within public areas or space, consideration must always be given to confidentiality and data protection and security of data or discussions. Not all roles/tasks will lend themselves to working in public areas/spaces, for example a café.


When can you work?

Hours of work will depend on the nature of the service being delivered and the needs of customers.. You may have fixed hours to support service delivery or may be able to work more flexibly over Monday/Sunday. As part of your Opt In request, you should discuss the nature of your job and, subject to service delivery, agree your working hours with your manager. For some posts hours can change and won't be worked in the same pattern every week. Agreeing hours with your manager will:

  • ensure that managers know when their team members are working and contactable
  • assist when planning staffing if there is an element of office cover required from the overall team
  • assist when approving leave requests from team members
  • help reduce risk of lone working
  • ensure work can be allocated/managed and outputs can be monitored
  • support health and wellbeing including when you can be contacted

You must also update your electronic diary to ensure it is clear when you are due to work, when you are in meetings, and any other commitments you may have during the normal working week. You can add your lunch break into your diary to ensure you are not disturbed.

If you are working outwith normal office hours please select the option to delay your emails so the recipient will receive them within normal working hours.

Your out of office email message should detail your working pattern if it's not the traditional Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm. During non-working times, when working from home, please put your laptop away to ensure you have a separation between work and home life.

Office Based

When you are working from the office working hours are within the building opening hours and as agreed with Managers. It is anticipated that office cover will be required during normal office hours. Any office cover arrangements across a team require to be agreed by the line manager.


What Equipment is provided?

Your manager will ensure you have appropriate equipment to undertake your role in a hybrid/flexible manner. This can include: a laptop, monitor, keyboard, mouse and headphones. It may also include a mobile telephone although for internal Council calls, 'teams' calls should normally be used. Printers will not be provided for use at home as we are working more digitally than ever before, however if you do need to print you will need to attend the office to do so. The modern workplace specification is online {insert link, when available} and is regularly reviewed. Where appropriate updated equipment will be made available and rolled out.

Prior to being provided with any electronic equipment it is essential that you have read and understood the Acceptable Use Policy.

Falkirk Council IT equipment is solely for the use of Falkirk Council employees only and for business use only. You must not connect any privately owned equipment to the Councils network or IT equipment.

It is your responsibility to ensure the equipment is kept safe and charging of equipment is your responsibility. You must bring the equipment to the office when requested for PAT checking.

If you are a permanent employee and a hybrid/flexible worker, you can purchase a desk and chair to support working from home and reclaim this through MyView (£100 maximum allowance). Where appropriate replacement desk/chair can be provided every 5 years or earlier in specific circumstances on a case by case basis. Temporary employees and casuals should discuss any requirements with their line manager in the first instance.

Some employees may require specific equipment to support the working arrangement. Specific needs will be considered on an individual basis, and with guidance from Occupational Health. If necessary, the desk can be categorised as an adapted/dedicated workspace on the desk booking app. This would mean that the named employee would get priority for this desk on a day they are working, but it can be booked by others when the named employee is not in work.

Paper diaries should be avoided, instead, you must use outlook to record meetings etc. Your outlook diary will be open for colleagues to view and you must allow full access to your diary for your manager, this is to support lone working, safety, availability and workload.

You should carry out a workstation assessment when you begin using new equipment. Where you are using standard workstation equipment this self-assessment does not need to be repeated every time you require to work within the office. You should only complete another self assessment if you experience issues using your workstation equipment or there is a change to the equipment provided. You need to make sure you tell your manager immediately of any issues you are experiencing. Reasonable adjustments will be made where appropriate.


Terms and Conditions

Any changes will be on an individual basis and voluntary. This guidance does not alter terms and conditions of employment. You will still have a Falkirk Council building noted as your base location.

Some employees are likely to have fixed working hours, others will have more flexibility. The working hours of the post will not alter, however for hybrid workers, the working pattern may become more flexible, as hours can be worked at a time that suits you (subject to service delivery/manager approval). Your line manager should know your working hours so they know when they can or can't contact you. You should also update your online diary so your colleagues know too. If you choose to work during unsocial hours, no enhancements are payable, as this is a personal choice.

If you are currently eligible for the Flexitime scheme this will continue.

Travel expenses will only be payable where a pool car is not available. Travel expenses cannot be claimed for travel between your home and base location.

As a hybrid worker, you will generally not be eligible for any excess travel claims. Excess travel is to compensate for additional costs incurred travelling to work due to an office move. Hybrid workers will be travelling to the office less than when they were office based so are less likely to incur additional expense.

Employees in all categories can continue to apply to work more flexibly through part-time work, job-sharing or compressed hours.

Normal Calling in Sick procedures apply to all employees. Working from home is not to be used as an alternative to childcare or care for dependents and requests for carers leave should follow normal procedures.

Arrangements should be reviewed regularly to ensure there are no issues that require to be addressed

Arrangements are subject to change to meet service delivery requirements, employee wellbeing and the needs of customers, which will always take priority.

Outputs

It is essential that you agree outputs with your manager. This means that you must agree the tasks and actions that need to be completed within an agreed timescale. Subject to service delivery it is up to you to determine when your tasks will be done within the timescales set.

You need to agree with your manager when you will be available or in the office

Clear expectations, standards and timescales for each piece of work is essential and must be agreed on a regular basis to ensure productivity is maintained

GDPR/Data Protection

You must ensure that any confidential information, either paperwork or electronic files are kept secure. For example, if working from home any confidential information should not be accessible to family members or visitors to the house. Similarly, if working from another Council location, please ensure any time you leave your work station that you lock your screen and ensure any confidential paperwork is not left visible/accessible to others.

Confidential waste should be returned to the Council as soon as practically possible for destruction and not disposed of with household rubbish or in other locations eg cafés.

Inside Falkirk has information and guidance on secure transmission of information, in both paper and electronic form.

The Olle Data Protection course must be completed annually.

Communication

Managing a team working flexibly brings challenges. In moving to a more flexible way of working there needs to be an acceptance that an immediate response will not always be possible as individuals may work different patterns to suit their circumstances/work commitments. Hybrid and flexible working requires an element of trust between you and your manager. Communication between you and your manager is key to success.

Effective communication is critical and it is important that this takes place on at least a weekly basis

There needs to be an agreed process/mechanism of monitoring performance and assessing output

You are expected to attend team meetings, 1-1s, good conversations and other appointments as necessary in connection with the duties of your post

More frequent 1-1’s may be required to ensure good communication and productivity.

Health and Safety

You should work with your manager to ensure your safety at all times. It is important that managers ensure that:

  • Emergency contact information is kept up to date
  • Working patterns are agreed
  • Lone working arrangements and wellbeing are considered and adequate arrangements and support are in place
  • Any necessary risk assessments are in place and reviewed as required
  • All employees complete the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) course on our online learning facility OLLE
  • A workstation self-assessment is completed by employees
  • Diaries must be open to all of your team and your manager at all times to ensure availability and location is known whist working
  • Regular contact including 1-1's and team meetings are in place to ensure ongoing support
  • An agreed workplan is in place for each employee
  • You familiarise yourself with the hints and tips for home working
  • All employees complete the Anytime Anywhere OLLE course.