Managing employees working from home

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Homeworking or ‘tele-commuting’ can cover a variety of arrangements. This could be working entirely at home apart from attending regular or occasional meeting at the office or with customers, time split between office and home or with customers - for example, two days in the office and three days at home or with customers, or some staff may prefer to work in the office and work from home only occasionally. Employers may find that cost saving or a need for a wider geographical spread of staff mean they might consider homeworking. Some other factors to consider include whether the role needs; team working, face-to-face supervision, required equipment. While homeworking can be seen as an attractive option, it will not suit everyone. A homeworker needs to be able to cope with working on their own with little supervision. Homeworkers ideally need to be able to spend long periods on their own and be confident working without supervision, self-disciplined and self-motivated, and able to separate work from home life. Managers may find managing homeworkers more difficult than managing office-based staff. Some key areas for managers to be aware of are the building of trust between manager and homeworker, agreeing how work performance will be supervised and measured, communicating effectively, and training so both staff who work from home and their managers can do their roles effectively. Performance management for homeworkers should be consistent with that of office-based staff, and regular face-to-face reviews will help assess progress or raise any concerns. Office-based managers tend to communicate more frequently face-to-face with office-based staff. However, it is important to maintain communication with homeworkers. This can be through email, telephone or video conferencing, and regular face-to-face meetings. It is good practice for homeworkers to attend regular meetings in the office, as this can help with keeping in touch with the rest of the business. Employers should have a Homeworking Policy which could include an opening statement which sets out the company’s commitment to flexible working, a definition of homeworking, what the employer will provide in setting up home working (e.g. laptop, telephone), running costs/expenses and how the employee’s performance will be managed. For more information on Homeworking, please call our Advice Service on 0800 028 2420.

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