Working from Home….what homework should you do first?
With the floods, the tube closures and next round of teachers’ strikes on the horizon, your employees may well be asking you about working from home. With current technology, you may be happy to agree, but what do you need to think through first?
A temporary arrangement?
If this is only a temporary measure, make this very clear from the start. Always consider the precedent you are setting. What effect could this have on you in the future?
- How long are you prepared to accept this arrangement? The tube strikes affected 3 working days in February but had looked likely to carry on for longer. Would you be happy if your employee was working from home for 2/3 months or even longer?
- Reserve, in writing, the right to say “no” to future requests and state that by allowing this period of homeworking, you are not setting any future precedents.
- If the strike is called off or the bad weather does not materialise, make it clear you expect them to come into work as usual.
- If you say “yes” this time, next time there is a problem, the likelihood is others will ask too. How will you decide who has to get to work?
Some employers may worry about how much actual work will get done. Many people are highly motivated. Whenever I have been working from home, I have found it really productive. Less interruptions meant I was better able to concentrate. For others, that may not be the case. If you are worried that some may see it more as a chance of a lie in, here are some ideas to let them know that out of sight is not out of of mind:
- Agree targets or tasks you would like them to work on at home.
- Let them know that you may ring them on their land line during working hours to discuss matters.
- Ask them to email you at the end of the working day to let you know what progress they have made.
A more permanent arrangement
You may have someone who would like to be working from home on a more regular basis. They might have approached you as a part of a flexible working request.
It is always better to have the boundaries in place from the beginning than to change things after the event. No matter how much you trust them, think through what could go wrong and put your house in order now.
- The more you say “yes” to ad hoc homeworking, the more you are likely to change their employment contract through custom and practice.
- Start with a trial period. If you don’t feel the arrangement is working you will be able to address things more easily.
- Confirm, in writing, that this is a temporary arrangement and that you reserve the right to revoke it at any time. Your letter or email should also say that working from home does not form part of their contract of employment.
- Make it clear that, on designated working days, they could still be required to come into the office for work related business at short notice. After all, they are working for you on those days.
Working from Home Safely
If your employee is working from home, you are responsible for checking that their working area is safe. This means you need to carry out a risk assessment, just as you would on any other part of your business premises. For more information, please click here.
Under the Data Protection Act, your business must keep all personal information safe and secure. Are your employees taking home valuable personal information? Do they really need to take that confidential business material away from your premises?
Set some boundaries about the type of work that can be done away from your premises and what must remain firmly behind.
Working from home can be great for both parties but it is worth doing a little homework of your own first!Categories Staff Performance, Uncategorized