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Hybrid working model (Education Sector)

Hi All,

I am currently exploring options to implement a hybrid working model within our Trust and would greatly appreciate advice and guidance from individuals working in a similar setting. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the policies that trusts or Mats already have in place for hybrid working. Our goal is to ensure equitable practices across the trust for all staff members, and I am particularly interested in insights regarding how this functions for both teachers and support staff within a school setting. Additionally, as we operate with 15 schools and three central offices, I am keen to explore best practices for managing hybrid work arrangements.

Currently, we informally manage hybrid working arrangements through ad hoc agreements with line managers. Feedback from a recent staff survey indicates a desire for more formalised hybrid working arrangements, particularly from central teams. However, I am concerned about ensuring fairness across the trust for all staff, considering that some roles may inherently allow for more flexibility than others.

I would be grateful for any advice or guidance on this matter. Your insights will be instrumental in shaping a fair and effective hybrid working approach within our trust.

Best regards

Raiela  

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  • Hi Raiela

    We're a MAT of 9, nearly 10, schools, with one central office.

    We do not have remote or hybrid working - if staff want us to consider this it must be requested through the flexible working policy.

    We're very much of the opinion our business is ultimately around support for our pupils, who are on site, thus, as a starting point we expect staff to be on site.

    We do allow WFH on odd days if projects are being worked on etc but this is not an on-going set-up.

    We did have one of our Finance Managers put in a FWR and it was agreed she could work from home 2 out of her 3 days (she had moved further away and had elderly parents she wanted to help look after), but it ended up putting more pressure on those in the office to scan documents to her, do things in the office on her behalf etc.

    We also saw a dip when PPA could be done remotely instead of in year-group teams in the PPA rooms.

    Before committing to anything, I would definitely set up some type of trial to see if it can work and to fine tune the details.

    Rgds
    K
  • In reply to Kimberly:

    Thank you for sharing your insights on this.
    Regards
    Raiela
  • Like Kimberly, our starting point is that we need to be available to the people in schools, who don't have the ability to sit on emails or on Teams, but who can pop in and find you between lessons if you're in. In fairness, I only have two schools to manage so I can see that a MAT or larger foundation of schools would have a different approach potentially for their central office staff.
  • In reply to Raiela:

    Thanks Nina,
    From an equity and fairness perspective across all employees, do you think if having hybrid working for some staff and not others could inadvertently foster resentment or the impression of unequal treatment across staff? How could we approach this?
  • In reply to Raiela:

    Saying someone cant work flexibly / in a hybrid way when other wise they could simply because someone else cant always seems like such a weak argument to me
  • In reply to Raiela:

    Teachers t&cs are much more beneficial than support staffs', and the admin team/all year round workers normally get the raw end of the deal amongst support staff, so this may be one area where support staff, particularly admin/AYRs, benefit more than others. As long as it's applied fairly (by the legal definition), staff will just have to get on with it!
  • Hi Raiela,
    My concern isn't from an equity perspective, just a practical one. Where the majority of your staff team aren't regularly on emails/Teams in their day to day work, it's just far more difficult to expect them to 'find' you online during term time, if your role requires that kind of interaction. For our support staff, we are much more flexible out of term time, and are very happy for people to work from home during those holiday periods.
    As others have said, if we sit and look at T&C for support staff next to teachers, I don't think there could be a good argument for saying that the support staff have the better deal!
    Good luck.
    Nina
  • I would agree that it is more complex for schools. Can I ask what the current practice is around timetabling and free teaching periods? Are teaching colleagues able to leave school during those or is the expectation/practice that they need to be in school on those periods - links to safeguarding or pupil/staff ratios?
  • I have worked with several education institutions (HE and FE rather than schools) on their hybrid implementation.

    One thing I would say - hybrid does not have to be considered on a weekly basis. One university I worked with had a hybrid arrangement that flowed with term time. EG, when students are on site then staff had to be most of the time, when students were on holidays staff could work a lot of their time from home. This worked very well - it just needs a little planning and thinking through (true of all hybrid implementations).

    I'd generally caution against ad hoc arrangements. You end up with lots of variation and its a breeding ground for resentment when managers approach things differently. Instead, I recommend some principles based on role type. Eg if you do X kind of job, our presumption is X (you can't work from home at all, you can work from home one day a week max, etc). This role based approach avoids the potential for managers to do things differently - unfortunately this is where bias and personal beliefs can creep in if not managed properly.

    Take a look at the work at Manchester University for an example of this - most of it is public on their website. I tend to find when you are transparent about who can have what and why some of the issues about different role flex potential goes away. Yes, some roles can't work from home - but you can also get creative here with other forms of flexible working that they can have.