Homeworkers are now commonplace and although located remotely from their employer and colleagues, with the right communication devices in place, can retain the ability to remain connected. Part-time homeworking is also more common, due to the increase in flexible working patterns.
However, there are practical issues for home and remote workers in order to ensure suitable communication systems are in place, and, in how remote employees can be managed and motivated.
A consideration for line mangers is how they adapt their leadership style to best support and engage their teams. In uncharted territory for many managers and business leaders, it’s not just about the practical issues…
The law on homeworking
All employees can request homeworking if they have worked for the company for at least 26 weeks through a statutory flexible working request.
The company does not have to permit flexible working, but does need to provide sound business reasons for its refusal.
Employees can only make one formal request every 12 months.
How has coronavirus changed the situation?
During England’s lockdown, all employees should work from home wherever possible and the latest Government guidelines are that they should continue doing so until Spring 2021.
Understanding temporary homeworking and how long it may last
Working from home is temporary
Workingat home is permanent
Employees should be informed of the temporary nature of the arrangement, despite being asked to work from home due to the current coronavirus situation.
Assessing homeworking environments
Employers have a duty to take care of the health, safety and welfare of homeworkers in the same way as for employees working on employer premises.
What is needed by employees will vary from role-to-role, but all homeworkers should be given what they need to carry out their job.
Following data protection and home insurance requirements
All employees must be fully aware of the requirements of the GDPR and how to maintain data protection in the Company.
Considerations should be given to any confidential information where security could be breached from information stored on an employees’ personal equipment.
Homeworking also raises issues for employees, such as ensuring their home insurance covers business use.
Implementing a Homeworker Agreement is crucial for employees working from home. The Agreement should clearly set out the working arrangements and company expectations of homeworkers. (Specialist HR Solutions Ltd can provide a Homeworker Agreement for employers if required).
Maintaining contact and inclusion
Having regular virtual meetings with employees working from home will ensure continued contact with internal support services and allow them to feel involved in business decisions that affect them.
Employees should be encouraged to raise issues they are experiencing with homeworking, including any negative effects on Mental Health.
Setting targets for Homeworkers
Clear targets should be set to monitor employee productivity and conduct whilst working from home. This could include the completion of certain tasks within one day or week.
Managing homeworker misconduct
Although employees should be aware of the Company’s disciplinary procedures, if they are suspected of abusing the homeworking arrangement, employers should explore the reasons before resorting to disciplinary procedures.
What if homeworking doesn’t work
Homeworking isn’t right for everyone and with the correct homeworker agreement in place, employers will reserve the right to terminate temporary homeworking arrangements. However, ultimately, whether employees will be permitted to return to the workplace will depend on Government coronavirus restrictions.
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