Did you know the TUC has recently reported that the number of people opting for a more flexible life and working from home has increased to 1.5 million people, which is an increase of a fifth over the last ten years?
There is evidence that where home working is approved there is a boost in employee engagement, as employees like the feeling of control over how they work. This more flexible approach to working can also be considered by small businesses if it works for them.
Here are five tips to ensure you get the best from your employees while they are working from home:
- Make sure staff know what is expected of them
Ensure you have a clear Working from Home Policy in place, and communicate it clearly with your employee. Explain what the policy means and that while working from home they are still subject to all company policies. Formalise in writing what you expect from them while they are working from home, and that it is not an excuse to undertake personal activities or have extra annual leave. Doing this benefits both of you, as it:
· Clearly sets out what you expect them to achieve
· Allows you to set performance measures
· Provides clarity on both sides
· Means you don’t need to check in with them so often
2. Checking in
This may feel awkward, but you do need to check in on how they are progressing just as you would if they were working in the office. Arrange a regular time/day so there is a routine for feedback, which also allows you to inform them of any information that needs to be passed on from HQ. This should be done sensitively to ensure they don’t feel constantly under pressure.
Use this time to ensure they are taking regular breaks, and that they have everything they need to achieve their tasks.
3. Make sure they have the right tools to do the job
When employees work from home they become very reliant on email communication, so consider setting up different forms of video conferencing, like Skype, which are quick to use, encourages staff to change out of their pyjamas, and promotes a more personal form of communication with work colleagues and clients.
4. Consider Health and Safety
As an employer you could be responsible for the safety of your home worker – even in their own home. If you provide electrical equipment, e.g. laptop or printer, ensure it is safety tested.
Give the homeworker all the information they need regarding Display Screen Equipment to avoid any unnecessary health issues. If the employee is working from home for a prolonged period, ask them to complete and return a risk assessment.
5. Assess who and when employees can work from home
It is advisable to keep working from home to those employees who really need it. Such as when working on a difficult project to provide quiet concentration time, or to receive an important delivery without losing a day’s holiday.
To keep your employees engaged, be reasonable about requests but don’t feel you have to approve them all if it does not seem reasonable, or if it is something you are not able to accommodate in your business.
Allowing home working is great for improving staff motivation and engagement, and also lets them know that you trust them and care about their wellbeing.