Working at home – how it will help your business
Working at home – how it will help your business.
It really is an understood, and understandable, proven fact that people at all stages of these career work best if they have the ability to achieve a proper balance between work and all the areas of their lives, not least since it reduces the strain and strain of keeping the domestic, professional and social plates spinning. HR consultant Tara Daynes explains how allowing key employees the casual felexibility to home based might benefit your important thing.
Most organisations should recognise that effective practices to market work-life balance will benefit
both organisation and its own employees, and employees ought to be valued because of their contribution to the business enterprise (their output) instead of their working pattern (their input). This is a joint responsibility between your organisation and its own employees to go over workable solutions, but perhaps one of the most common is working at home.
Whether on an ad-hoc basis rather or by way of a formal flexible working arrangement, you can find business benefits to arrangements which allow certain staff to home based on occasions. Home working can be quite efficient and productive usage of staff time, and is currently a lot more feasible given advances in technology, such as for example remote usage of networks, web-based email, the Cloud etc. Working at home is definitely an effective method of clearing paperwork or carrying out work which requires concentration and where a worker needs to get rid distractions (though it is arguable that the TV/cat/children/fridge could constitute quite palpable distractions!)
Along with the practicalities, there may be a huge positive effect on employee relations. Showing that you trust your employees enough, and so are flexible enough, to let them home based can be hugely encouraging for staff. It demonstrates that you value them by recognising and accommodating their needs. Which increases their loyalty to, and engagement with, the organisation – resulting in more productive, effective staff.
Working at home is the most suitable for staff whose work can be carried out remotely and in isolation, e.g. writing papers, policy documents or complex material, coping with emails, IT etc. It really is less suitable for those that have to deal directly, on a day-to-day basis, with customers and/or with colleagues, such as for example through meetings or presentations. Having said that, thanks to technology such as for example Skype, conference calls, dialling directly into meetings, webinars and podcasts, people could be ‘virtually’ in exactly the same place at exactly the same time!
Having a proportion of one’s team working at home (or from another person’s home, or from the train, or from the coffee shop – actually from anywhere with a phone, laptop and an Web connection) can save the business enterprise a whole lot in space, travel along with other overheads. Actually, some smaller organisations have embraced the ‘virtual office’ so much they have done away with a workspace altogether, towards staff all working remotely. But before you send everyone house with a new Blackberry, there are many things to consider when considering ‘working at home’ arrangements.
Once the cat’s away, exactly what will the mice do? Managers who want to home based should consider their team – are they diligent and self-sufficient enough to be remotely managed, or is there some people who’ll need more close supervision? Exactly the same applies backwards – while productivity could theoretically increase when people home based, there is the chance that the opposite can happen unless proper monitoring processes come in place.
To cope with this, the employee must be in charge of the task they complete in the home. Managers ought to be advised beforehand of the task to be undertaken, and, on go back to the office, proof work produced ought to be available if necessary. The employee should be contactable in the home by phone and email (however, not badgered every half hour – trust and employee empowerment are critical to keeping staff motivated.)
Careful workload planning is going to be needed, so the homeworkers have enough to help keep them occupied each day, and won’t be succumbing to daytime TV by mid-afternoon. Take into account the work that may and can’t be done from your home, and make sure that people manage their time and diaries in order to make the best usage of their time in the home.
Remember that you have less control over what goes on to confidential work information when it’s off your premises, whether that’s hard copies or electronic. As data controller, you’re responsible beneath the Data Protection Act for the client information, plus you should make sure your own organisation information is kept secure. So make sure to manage the chance by checking that anyone taking home or accessing data remotely can follow security procedures. This can be technological – such as for example passwording documents and laptops – or organisational, such as for example keeping filing cabinets locked.
Because staff are working from your home doesn’t absolve an employer from their duty of care or other legal obligations, like the Working Time regulations and safe practices issues. Staff must have appropriate equipment and facilities to home based – this might involve a workstation Risk Assessment being completed by way of a trained employee. Sitting of the sofa with a laptop is okay for the odd half-hour, but also for full days of homeworking, an adequately set up workstation will undoubtedly be needed.
Staff involve some personal responsibility too though, and really should ensure they manage their time effectively, enabling a lunch time break of least half an hour. That said, you can find no rules to state that an eight-hour morning has to happen between 9am and 5.30pm – homeworkers may take up a bit later and continue to the evening, if that suits their domestic commitments like the school run. Staff should ensure though that their working conditions work and that we now have no distractions that could compromise the grade of their work, such as for example childcare responsibilities.
It’s smart to formalise your rules and procedures around homeworking in a documented policy, particularly with regards to work monitoring, equipment, IT and data security, medical and safety side and Risk Assessments. The HSE ‘Homeworking’ guidance document is quite useful with this last area, referring not only to VDUs and workstations, but additionally manual handling, usage of electrical items and substances hazardous to health.
Finally, take your time and effort in training, in order that all of your careful planning and policy-making doesn’t head to waste! Homeworkers will require trained in data protection, security measures and workstation safe practices. Managers will require training on individuals management techniques had a need to manage staff remotely and ensure work gets done effectively and efficiently.
With the proper planning and preparation though, homeworking can help you save money and offer you with an increase of engaged, productive and happy employees – which means you should visit a return on that investment.