How do you manage employees who work from home?

  1. Home workers
    Nicola Mullineux

    Nicola Mullineux Contributor, Peninsula Business Services Full Member - Verified Business

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    Employees have a right to make a flexible working request once they have 26 weeks’ service, which can include asking an employer to consider allowing them to work from home.

    Although legislation creates this right, employers and employee can also come to this agreement through more informal means; some jobs are offered on the basis that the employee will work from home and working from home will be a reasonable adjustment for a disabled employee.

    In this article, we wanted to look at how small businesses should negotiate these arrangements and manage home workers.

    Prior to setting an agreement

    Before allowing an employee to work from home you need to conduct an assessment of the premises where the work will be carried out. You still have a duty of care towards that employee and have to make sure that the premises comply with health and safety standards.

    In cases where homeworking is requested because of caring responsibilities you need to clarify that there is an expectation for the employee to do work during their working hours. This means that, although homeworking has been permitted for care reasons, arrangements should be made so that the caring does not impede on productivity.

    Along with this, it is important that the specific employee suits a homeworking role. Homeworking employees are usually highly independent, self-motivated and can work with little to no supervision. Agreeing an initial trial period can be a good way of assessing whether the arrangement is suitable.

    What can homeworking incorporate?

    The term homeworking can cover a number of different working arrangements and depending on the arrangement employees may need different amount of support. Firstly, working from home can be an alternative to office-based work, where employees carry out the same duties they would in the office.

    Secondly, homeworking can be part of a split role where the employee works from home on some days, but attends the office for certain tasks or meetings on other days. These employees are not likely to need as much support on the days when they are away as they are not completely detached from the normal workplace environment.

    Lastly, in roles where travelling from appointment to appointment makes up a large part of the role, employees may not have a reason to attend the office or may not have a set one at all. For these employees their home will be used as a base.

    What to consider when managing homeworkers

    Some homeworkers will not attend the work premises on a regular basis due to distance and will rely on technology to make contact and communicate with colleagues. In these cases it is important to put a system in place which allows these workers to easily report back and escalate issues to the office.

    All homeworkers, regardless of the reason why they are working from home, should be treated in the same way as other staff who work onsite. For example, they should receive the same benefits as other staff and have access to the same tools to carry out the job. Also, if there are any work-related social activities, homeworkers should be included, too.

    In order to successfully manage employees out of the office, you should take steps to make them feel part of the team and included in relevant work-related issues. It is very important to encourage communication between these employees and other staff and managers. Without this communication, employers may not be able to monitor the quality and quantity of their performance.

    Monitoring the performance of all employees is vital to the success of any business, and homeworkers are no exception to this rule.

    Employers can set key performance indicators to all staff, including those based outside of the office. Along with that, employers should hold regular feedback sessions where performance is reviewed and new goals and tasks are set. These can be held in person during scheduled visits to the office or via conference calls.

    Establishing trust between an employee and their supervisor can be a lot more difficult when the employee is a homeworker, compared to an employee who works in the office and has the opportunity to meet with their supervisor on a daily basis.

    Where homeworking is concerned, telephone and email are likely to be the main means of supervising and managing remote workers, and these should be used as a means to build trust and monitor performance.

    If you need to take any actions in accordance with your disciplinary, performance or capability procedures regarding the employee then depending on contractual provisions you may invite them into the office to hold any meetings or hold the meeting in a neutral place near them.

  2. jujupock

    jujupock UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Great article thanks Nicola. I'm lucky enough to be able to work from home for a technology company. I'd add one really important factor - cyber security! With a recent report from the FSB, and with government now making Cyber Essentials a mandatory certification to do business with them, many organisations will be looking at the 5 most important technical areas to protect your business against cyber attacks. I'd recommend it as a starting point for even the smallest firm. We've just done it and have a low cost and effective route to achieving it if anyone wants to talk to me.
    Posted: Jun 17, 2016 By: jujupock Member since: Apr 26, 2016
  3. Monquiel

    Monquiel UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    10 1
    I have an small site like wikihow but smaller (I just started) I use a tool called Harvest and is really good to track the time.
    Posted: Jun 28, 2016 By: Monquiel Member since: Jun 24, 2016