The pandemic undoubtedly revolutionised the way we work. Recent data released by the Office for National Statistics revealed that between September 2022 and January 2023, 16% of the workforce still worked solely from home, while 28% were hybrid workers who split their time between home and the office.
Although the days of the pandemic are behind us, homeworking is here to stay.
Here we detail five top tips for employers when it comes to supporting employees who work from home:
1. Communication, communication, communication!
So many of the HR issues we deal with stem from poor communication. Whilst working from home has benefits, some employees can feel isolated, and not everyone will readily pick up the phone in times of need.
Unlike a normal office environment where people can easily chat with one another, working from home does not give rise to natural lines of communication. When managing a team working from home, you must proactively maintain strong communication channels.
Be sure to schedule regular catchups with the team and encourage team members to communicate with each other too. Make use of various communication methods, including email, group chat systems, telephone calls and video calls.
By scheduling time in the calendar to check in, no one is forgotten, and you can gauge how best you can support individuals whilst working in separate locations. Aside from discussions around workload, it is also a good idea to set aside time for social catch-ups.
Ensure your employees have a comfortable space to work from home and have the equipment they need to undertake their job role successfully. This will ensure good productivity.
A DSE assessment should be conducted and reviewed regularly for anyone who uses Display Screen Equipment (DSE) as part of their job. Further information and template assessments are available on the HSE website.
3. Be clear on working hours
Homeworking blurs the lines between our personal and professional lives. Some employees may feel they have to be available 24/7 and, without realising it, can end up working all hours of the day.
Employers should encourage a healthy work-life balance by setting clear expectations regarding working hours and reminding employees when it is time to log off at the end of the working day.
4. Encourage regular breaks
Like the above, it is important to encourage staff to take regular breaks. Working for prolonged periods without a break does not aid good productivity or concentration, and it can lead to feelings of stress.
The HSE recommends that home workers take a 5-minute break for every hour of work. Managers should remind employees to take their lunch break, and to have regular screen breaks. By doing this, you will find that employees are more focused when they return.
5. Be aware of signs of disengagement
In contrast to points 3 and 4, some individuals find homeworking difficult and may find themselves easily distracted during the working day. It is easy to focus in an office-based environment, but in some homes, it can be hard to find space and time to concentrate.
Micromanaging employees is certainly not the answer, but it is important to be aware of team members who appear withdrawn during virtual meetings or are not replying to emails or other communications.
This could mean that something is wrong, and they need help, or they are struggling to maintain their focus and lack motivation. Either way, it is worth having a one-to-one meeting with the team member to find out more and offer support.
Share this information with your staff to ensure they are aware of the steps they can take to help themselves stay connected, motivated and productive whilst working from home.
About the author
This article is provided by our sister company, Stallard Kane, a specialist risk management service provider offering expert advice and solutions in Health and Safety, HR, Risk Solutions and Training. This article is for general guidance only and aims to provide general information on a relevant topic in a concise form. This article should not be regarded as advice in relation to a particular circumstance. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific advice.
If you want a truly personalised service, contact your usual Towergate advisor today who can put you in touch with Stallard Kane’s HR Team to discuss your requirements – call 01427 420 403 or email email@example.com, and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.