Posts Tagged ‘hybrid working’

Can employers force employees to come back to the workplace?

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at

Getting employees back into the workplace

There have been a lot of queries on whether employers can force employees to come back whether on a full time or hybrid basis and what rights the employees have.

Essentially, employees are obliged to meet the terms of their employment contract which will state where the normal place of work is. While during the pandemic this changed for many employees, now that the guidelines are to phase back into the workplace, this will now be applicable again.

However, we are advising employers to act cautiously. Before implementing any changes we recommend developing a plan based on your specific business needs and the circumstances and needs of your employees. There is no one solution that will work across all businesses and for all roles. Collaborate and communicate with your employees and agree a plan. If at that point terms and policies need to be changed, they should be done so with the full agreement of both the employer and the employee.

5 Key Points to consider when returning to work


In the transition back to a new routine post-pandemic, virtually all employees will likely have personal challenges competing for their energy and attention. Preparation and showing care, kindness and wellbeing will be key success factors. Ensure managers are ready for this, and know what supports are available.


With everyone socially isolating for over a year, there will need to be an induction and integration process to support people on returning to the workplace. Regardless of whether individuals are coming back to an onsite or hybrid model, how things work, COVID-19 response, where things now are, use of desks and equipment will have changed for many.


Big gaps emerged during the pandemic around team working, collaboration and innovation (CIPD HR Practices in Ireland 2021). These have to be purposefully built into time onsite and blended working models, so time at the workplace provides face-to-face engagement, both formal and informal. If everyone is working blended, things like face-to-face meetings, team collaboration, have to be planned so the right people are on site on the right days.


Equality and parenting/caring issues will have to closely managed. This will require close monitoring and interventions to deliver equality and fairness, and attract and retain minority groups. Hybrid working is a positive way to enhance flexibility. Employees have more choice over when, where and how they work, and employers will be able to attract and retain a more diverse pool of employees and those with skills in demand.


One of the biggest challenges for leaders and managers will be the culture – bringing people together again around a common mission, purpose and ways of working. A gap has already emerged between those working remotely and essential onsite workers in some companies so getting everyone to re-engage on a common agenda will be critical.


Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

How can I successfully manage meetings in a hybrid working world?

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at

How can I successfully manage meetings in a hybrid working world?

As employees start to return to work in a Hybrid model, it is important to ensure our communication practices are up to scratch and inclusive of all parties across the workplace, no matter where you have employees working from or when they are working.

We have developed our top 10 tips for hosting engaging and effective meetings:

PURPOSE: Be clear about the purpose of the meeting (such as decision-making, information-sharing, collaboration) and check it’s suited to a hybrid approach. Communicate the intended outcome so everyone can prepare and are clear about the purpose – set expectations from the start.

INCLUSIVNESS: Avoid ‘presence disparity’ so that those present are not treated differently to those joining remotely. Take steps to involve remote participants by providing everyone with a chance to speak, use first names to be inclusive and personable.

EQUALITY: Ensure everyone has an equal voice, don’t just default to people you can see or those in the meeting room. Use tools and technical functionality like chat or hand-raising for example and explain how questions or comments will be answered at the beginning of the meeting. Make sure remote participants can contribute throughout – don’t just bring them in at the end.

TRAINING: Provide refresher training on facilitating meetings, to include all types of meetings and ensure you provide training on the tools and functionality now available on various platforms.

INDIVIDUAL TEAMS: Encourage and support teams to establish their own principles for hybrid meetings. This may include how often they should meet physically and for what purpose, what technology to use and how to ensure that communication is inclusive of all attendees.

CONSISTENCY: Decide which form of communication is important. There are various communication channels you can use, not every communication will need to be a meeting. Consider if there are other opportunities. There are many different ways to communicate – but using too many channels can be overwhelming. Agree a primary channel for each particular purpose, such as one platform for online meetings, and one for messaging. Check that everyone knows how to use them fully.

TECHNOLOGY TOOLS: Make use of smart technology (asynchronous) tools that allow people to contribute without having to be at the meeting (such as Slack or chat functions in platforms like Microsoft Teams. This provides schedule- and location-flexibility, and reduce meeting time as alternatives to having hybrid meetings.

LOCAL CONVERSATIONS: Don’t allow those in the meeting room to begin side conversations that remote participants cannot hear or take part in.

USE OF EQUIPMENT: Avoid using equipment in the room (such as a flip chart or visual aids) that those attending remotely are unable to properly see. Present slides via the remote technology in use.

BEFORE AND AFTER MEETINGS: Don’t start in-person conversations before the meeting starts (or remote participants have joined) or continue conversations after they have left.

A successful meeting will be engaging, have clear objectives, actions, outcomes and a purpose.  In a hybrid working world it is even more important not to lose sight of these and to put some extra energy and thought into the planning and execution of meetings.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Emerging through Covid-19 Guide: Remote and Blended Working

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

Developed by Voltedge Management HR consultants and Enterprise Ireland, the Emerging through Covid-19 Guide provides an overview of flexible, hybrid and remote working models and provides insights on how companies can manage these new ways of working to suit their business needs.

Please click HERE to download the guide.

What should companies look at when considering implementing a four-day work week?

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

To know if a four-day work week is right for your organisation there are many advantages and disadvantages to be considered. Communication with your employees will be crucial throughout the process and its very important to scope out what a four-day week means for your organisation.

For many, they are looking at how pre-existing arrangement and contracted hour’s between the employer and employee can be worked and completed over a 4-day period rather than a 5-day period.

Here are a few of the advantages and disadvantages companies are experiencing.


  • Reduced costs

A four-day week can cut costs for everyone.

The obvious one is that, given the office would be closed for one extra day a week, running costs would see a significant drop.

Additionally, employees would be paying less to commute and would see cut costs in expenses like lunch and coffees during the day, too.

  • Happier employees

Having a three-day weekend leaves employees with more free time. Not many people will complain about that.

Having more time to do the things you love increases overall happiness and can help to increase loyalty to a company – it’s a win-win.

  • Increase in productivity levels

Discontent staff tend to distract their co-workers. The general theory behind a shorter week is that happier, more fulfilled employees are therefore more focused on their job when actually in the workplace.

Studies have found that 78% of employees could more effectively balance their work and home life. This was compared to 54% prior to the experiment.

  • Recruitment and retention

In the age of the millennial, being able to offer a more flexible work pattern is definitely a perk that persuades employees to stay at a company.

Knowing they’ll be getting a three-day weekend is one that keeps employees motivated week-on-week. It’s still a relatively rare offering and can be a great way to get the best talent through the door – and keep them engaged, too.


  • It doesn’t suit every business model

Unfortunately, a four-day week model doesn’t suit every business. It’s an option that is only viable for companies who can re-adapt their whole business to a new way of working.

Adopting a different way of working is a big step, so you’ll need to consider whether or not a four-day week is right for your company. As mentioned communication will be vital during this stage. Ask your employees for their input and include them in the decision making process.

  • Longer hours and work-related stress

In reality, most employees on a four day week will most likely be expected to work the same number of hours, but in four days instead of five. In this case, shifts might be extended to 10 hours.

Longer days could have a significant effect on your employees’ stress levels and therefore their overall wellbeing and productivity.

  • Skipping Workdays Benefits Your Competition

The very possibility that an entire workday is now cut out from your schedule will seem extremely appealing to your competition. If they do not follow the trend themselves, they now have an entire day that they can dedicate to outperforming your organisation.

They may choose to contact your key clients and customers on a day where they won’t be able to get in touch with your employees.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Designing the workplace of the future – A new guide for all employers

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

The world of work was shaken to its core in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit Ireland and hundreds of thousands of Irish workers had to suddenly work from home.

The slow and steady drive towards digitalisation accelerated sharply, and virtual meeting programmes such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams became commonplace. Now, 15 months on, and with the vaccination programme well underway, employers can begin to think about a return to the workplace – hopefully permanently. But the many lessons learned during the pandemic has had both employers and employees thinking about the future workplace – will we ever go back to the way it was? And do we want to?

Voltedge Management, in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, have produced a new guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19 – The future of work, which aims to help business owners think about the positives and negatives from the last 15 months and to use these to build a sustainable business model for the future. With many employees welcoming the idea of remote working into the future, either full-time or for part of the week, is it time for employers to recognise the positives of remote working and tie it into their company policy on a permanent basis? And if so, how can they make it sustainable?

“This is a follow-on from last year’s Covid-19 employer guide; last year we looked at the health and safety aspects of returning to work, while the theme of this year’s guide is around the future of work,” explains Karen Hernández, Senior Executive, Client Management Development at Enterprise Ireland. “During Covid, the workplace has changed, the nature of work has changed for a lot of people, and what employees expect from their employers has changed. Our aim is for all companies to be prepared to put in place the right structures and practices that suit their business needs and also the needs of their employees.

“A large portion of our client base experienced the need to rush into remote working when Covid-19 hit Ireland in 2020. There have been some advantages and opportunities associated with this; some businesses found they’re as productive, if not more productive when working remotely. This guide aims to help companies take what’s worked well over the last 15 months and create some sustainable practices and processes that work for everybody.”

The guide was developed in partnership with Fredericka Sheppard and Joyce Rigby-Jones of Voltedge, a highly regarded HR consultancy based in Dublin. “The objective with the guide is that it gives you a framework to start developing your own plan for the return to the office,” explains Fredericka. “All organisations are going to have their own dynamic, their own set of circumstances, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this. Our aim was to identify key pillars for organisations to use to develop structure and a suitable framework for their business.”

The importance of asking questions

A huge emphasis is placed on the need for communication with employees when making these decisions. “Employers need to engage with and actively listen to their employees, while also driving their business forward,” says Joyce. “This is intended as a broad guide, where employers can pick and choose the relevant pieces to them.”

“It’s very important that employees feel that they’re being heard,” adds Fredericka. “However, decisions need to be made based on a number of factors, and employee input is just one of those factors. Obviously it’s really important to manage expectations and sometimes it’s just down to how you ask the questions. Give them some context from a business point of view. It’s not just about the employees’ wish-list, it’s also about creating a sustainable workplace for the future.”

Managing remote workers

Many employers are looking at keeping some sort of remote or flexible working practices in place – and offering this flexibility can be very positive when it comes to attracting talent. “Almost two-thirds of our client base are saying they find it hard to attract, engage and retain talent,” says Karen. “Companies need to consult and stay close to their employees and ask them what they want – and include aspects like flexibility as part of a value proposition to attract candidates.

“Many companies that we are working with are looking at some sort of hybrid model, where employees combine time working in the office and time spent working remotely, at home or in co-working spaces. There are huge upsides, such as accessing skills from different parts of the country that they never would have before – offering remote, flexible or hybrid working is attractive to employees.

However, this can be difficult to manage, and companies need to consider what works for the team as a whole as well as what’s right for individuals within those teams.”

“There’s a big need for management support and training, especially for middle and line managers and supervisors who are dealing with a remote workforce,” explains Joyce. “It’s difficult for them, but it’s important that they get it right. Ensuring your managers are confident in what they do, and in their engagement with their teams. We are hearing that companies are looking to bring their employees into the office more, but it’s about getting that blend right between remote working and the office. One aspect that we emphasised in the guide is the need to make sure you are not discriminating against employees who are not in the office environment.”

Identifying and managing issues such as burn-out and isolation is essential if companies are to offer some sort of remote working policy. “Companies that have regular check-ins and meetings with staff and use different methods of communication, such as video calls, emails and direct messaging are more likely to keep employees engaged when working remotely.  It’s also important for employees to have individual focus time, where they are able to detach from colleagues and concentrate on getting their work done without interruption”, says Karen.  “Long term, we don’t know enough about hybrid working for a definite ‘best practice’ but instead companies should pilot different ways of working – for instance, we have some companies who are trialling a ‘team days’ concept – having the whole team in for certain days of the week, then for the rest of the week, they’re working from home.”

Piloting the new workplace

The aim of the guide is to pose those broad questions that will help employers in every sector decide on the right workplace for the future of their business – but there is no need to rush into a decision. “The biggest challenge for employers is making the decision as to how you’re going to handle this working environment,” says Joyce. “Are you going to fully return, are you going for a hybrid, can you facilitate a full return in the workspace that you have? Employers need to make very big decisions, and very strategic, long-term decisions, so we’re suggesting that they talk to their employees about what they want and then piloting whatever they plan to do before they make any strategic decisions that will impact on the business going forward.”

Covid-19 has had a huge effect on how we work – but now is the time to use what we have learned since March 2020 to create a more inclusive, sustainable business model, one that pushes the business forward while creating a culture that values employees and their health and wellbeing more than ever before. This can only be a positive thing.

To download the guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19 – The future of work’click here.

Watch Webinar Recording ‘Emerging Through Covid-19: The future of work’ in partnership with Enterprise Ireland

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

Voltedge Management hosted, in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, the webinar ‘Emerging Through Covid-19: The future of work’. The webinar discusses how Covid-19 has impacted the world of work,  how the changes brought about by Covid-19 impact your company and how you manage your employees, the practices you need to implement to continue to attract, engage and develop your employees in a post Covid-19 era.












Click here to watch the recording. 

You can also download the webinar slides here

Coinciding with the webinar, Voltedge and Enterprise Ireland have also developed the guide of the same name. Click HERE to download the guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19: The future of work’.