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Hybrid working: organisational development
Hybrid working: organisational development

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8.4 Policies and process

As HEIs adapt their ways of working as we move from a pandemic to an endemic state, policies and processes need to be reviewed, and updated to reflect the changing situation. It is important for hybrid working to have clear and easily accessible policies and processes in place, which have been effectively communicated, not only to provide clarity on the expectations from organisations, but also to ensure that they can be easily found.

When reviewing policies and processes it helpful to have a framework to adhere to, to ensure that their intended purpose is considered. You also need to consider which stakeholders need to be involved in reviewing policies, which often may also require union input.

Policies are formal statements of principles that should be followed and normally are mandatory. Many will be connected to legal requirements an organisation is required to meet. They normally link to strategic objectives, the direction an organisation will approach,, and be in a language suitable for the intended audience.

Procedures or processes are the ‘instructions’ someone needs to follow to achieve a reoccurring task or comply with a policy.

Guidelines are often considered as general guidance, it should be noted that it is accepted practice in some areas that they are in fact mandatory. Brand guidelines, for example, include some elements that are mandatory to use but others that allow for some flexibility, depending on the context, such as the logo. The logo image will be mandatory, but there will be a set of guidelines for its use in different contexts.

Standards are normally those issued by a third party such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Some of these will be voluntary or mandatory within your organisations, alongside codes of conducts.

Policies and processes maybe owned by different departments, so collaboration is required, and agreements for those that are required for the whole organisation are managed and shared, compared to those that may be local-level only.

Where a policy is mandatory, and it is linked to a legal requirement, it is essential to ensure that you have considered what training might be required. This not only aims at engaging staff to read the policy, but also their responsibilities and the guidance on how to do the tasks associated with it, and where they can go for further information.

How you monitor that all employees have read and understood the policy needs to be considered as well: too often online training modules are little more than tick-box exercises that don’t actually ensure that the employee has understood their responsibilities or implemented an action as a result of the training. It is important to consider how the training associated with your policies can be effective, and how you use any data from this to demonstrate compliance of employees, which often needs to be shared with external organisations.

Activity 28: Review your organisation’s policies

Timing: 20 minutes

HEI policies will not only relate to employment, health and safety, data protection, cyber security, sustainability, procurement, and regulatory acts, but also to academic practice and student welfare.

Depending on your HEI and location you will have different policies and processes in place, which will often be collated into one area on an internal intranet. Take some time to explore these at your organisation and consider those that are most relevant to your role within your HEI.

If you are involved with developing your organisation for hybrid working, you may wish to do further research on guidance for policies. We have provided some links about this below: