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Homeworking is becoming more popular, but there is a still a perception that it is hard to manage. Here are some top tips on how to manage homeworkers.
Homeworking jobs are at an all-time high as employers seek to cut costs, retain skilled staff and manage their businesses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Many organisations are even looking towards a future of hybrid working, where some time is spent in the office and some homeworking. Alongside the obvious issues related to social distancing, homeworking can improve employee well-being, cut costs on overheads and has shown that it does not have a negative impact on productivity.
Once a decision to grant homeworking is made, key things to bear in mind are:
Managing remote workers requires a different mindset. Clear targets have to be set and regularly monitored. Guidelines need to be set down about expectations, for example, that childcare is in place.
Managers have to ensure remote staff are included in everything from training to social events and office gossip. This can be done through regular contact with their colleagues by both phone, email and video conferencing. You may also want to set up regular face to face meetings where employees come into the office and have a chance to catch up with colleagues.
Ensure that your remote workers have sufficient internet connectivity and mobile phone service, and that you have some sort of computer support available if they need it. You will need to agree payment for any work-related use of personal phones or computers if you are not supplying these, although it is better if they have a mobile phone which is for work use only so that claiming expenses does not get confusing within their own phone contract arrangements.
Managers have a duty under Health and Safety legislation to check remote employees’ work stations. Of course, this is difficult with a home office set up but you can still ask employees to carry out their own assessment. The Health & Safety Executive website has a good checklist you can use.
You should also ensure you have regular discussions with your homeworking team to assess how they are getting on with working from home, if it is causing any mental or physical health issues, and be prepared to supply equipment to help if need be.
As part of domestic home insurance declarations there is normally a question as to whether any business purpose exists in the home. As accidents can happen, normally an employer will pay any excess on the employee’s home insurance if this is significant – it can be negligible if the home working is infrequent. Employers may also have an extended policy of their own to cover laptops etc outside of the office area, and also perhaps additional accident cover for claims away from the office.