In it for the long haul
A guide to working from home in the long term.
As an employer there are still many challenges ahead as working patterns and traditions continue to be altered. In addition to the legal obligations we have discussed in previous articles, employers must make sure that employees stay connected, motivated and engaged in the long term when working from home. We have prepared some tips on how to manage employees working from home over the long term from this perspective.
It is important to consider the mental welfare of the employees being managed. Keeping employees up to date with changes in the business, updates and casual news is invaluable. Making sure employees are heard and their opinions are being considered (despite their absence from the office) and how employers can do this are also valuable considerations for employers.
Inclusivity through Technology
Keeping everybody in the loop when some are working from home while others are in the office can be challenging, making it even more important to have effective systems in place that not only work in the office but within this new working environment.
Tracking workflow can help employers and your employees. Updates and keeping an eye on tasks, responsibilities and progress made are easily neglected but are fundamental to a productive working environment whether at home or in the office. Additionally, some simple steps such as managing expectations on timescales, sharing calendars and progress updates so there is transparency can be helpful.
There is an obvious danger that cliques of homeworkers and office workers could emerge but keeping employees in harmony by communication and updates regarding work and social activities should help nip this in the bud.
Consider structuring meetings so that every attendee is aware of the topics that will be discussed and the key decisions to be made and if anybody is absent from a meeting making sure they are kept in the loop by sending a note afterwards. As above there is a danger that if meetings are taking place in the office with a number of staff at home, the home workers could feel left out of key decisions. Listening to all voices is important.
Employees could consider setting a routine, to help them separate their professional and private lives. Employers should encourage their employees to review their daily working from home routine. What does the day look like? What do they miss? What do they find hard? This will help employers understand employees’ issues better and help reassess their needs and feel appreciated. In turn this will help performance and productivity.
There are innovative solutions to these problems and employers could always try approaches such as recommending certain apps, podcasts or new activities as a group exercise.
A lot has been said and written about how the mind has been impacted by the pandemic and homeworking but the body can also suffer. Employers should help ensure employees have the right workplace set up at home. Whether this means better chairs for the home office, assisting with guidance for how a set up should be carried out and making sure health and safety at home is not an issue for the employee.
Investing in a workplace assessment as well as supporting your employees to set up their workplace at home properly does not only demonstrate compliance with your health and safety obligations as an employer but also shows your employees that you care and improves their physical health as well.
Working from home offers many benefits, not only for employees but also for employers. With most of the country forced into an 18 month test trial, if you haven’t already done so, now could be a wise time to review and adjust accordingly to make the most of the situation, as this may continue in some form for the foreseeable future.