VS writes: In order to bring more flexibility into the workplace, I am considering the possibility of allowing my employees to work from home. However as I have not implemented this before I am unsure of what things I will need to consider. Please can you advise?
Employers must be mindful that the homeworker remains included within the business as a whole. In order to prevent the employee from feeling isolated - as can happen when an employee does not experience the camaraderie of working with colleagues - employers should be careful to include them in the general goings on in the workplace.
This should ideally be done in face to face meetings, and you can make it a requirement of the job role that the employee attends head office on a regular basis. Alternatively, communication can be undertaken by Skype or other teleconferencing technology.
Make sure you keep a check on the employee’s productivity in the same way as your workplace based employees. It may be unfair to assume that homeworkers will not work as hard as those in the workplace because of the distractions they may face at home – television and visitors to the house, for example. You should apply the same monitoring measures to home workers although the logistics may need to be slightly different.
It will be important for you to involve the homeworker in business events, such as team building, important meetings, and social events to combat the potential isolation of the homeworker. This may help focus and maintain the employee’s feeling of unity and value within the business, having a knock on positive effect on self-motivation, drive and commitment.
Your concerns regarding homeworking can largely be overcome by the implementation of a homeworking policy within your business. If made widely available to both current employees and job applicants the option of homeworking can be both advantageous and beneficial to both parties. Although arguably how effective the measure will be will depend on the nature of the business as to whether homeworking will complement the business structure and also the individual role suggested to be completed at home.
A homeworking policy may seek to include such themes as what roles are eligible for homeworking; the aggregated working hours required; who will provide the equipment and insurance; the right to enter the employee’s home to undertake workplace related assessments; that friends and family must be made aware the employee is not available during working hours; and methods of communication between the parties.