Working from home and flexible working is becoming hugely popular due to advances in technology and a change in mind-set within the business world. And when we say this, many companies want to be able to pick from a far wider talent pool which stretches further than their immediate vicinity and also, businesses often want to reduce their overheads by decreasing their physical office space. In addition, there has been more of a focus on output and productivity as opposed to simply the input of an individual.
As well as benefits to the business, there are of course many benefits to the employee as well: they can fit around family and home commitments, reduce travel time and minimise distractions to focus their time and attention on the work in hand. So, as you can see, there are many benefits for all parties. However, from a business perspective, how can you make this work for your organisation?
It may be that you are a start-up and have no office facility or that your business is more mature with some employees working remotely and others within the office space. When considering whether an employee should be permitted to work from home, it’s important to weigh up the pros and the cons. Because, of course there are certain aspects of being in the office which are tricky for remote employees to benefit from, especially regarding face-to-face interaction for information sharing and general team camaraderie. Of course there is the concern that some employees just won’t be productive remotely.
Of course ensuring that your workforce is able to work independently from home starts right back at the recruitment stage and is closely linked to your business culture. If remote working is part of your culture then you need to make sure that this is part of your job advert, person specification and job description. You need to hire people you can trust in this type of environment and who have a fantastic work ethic. If you hire someone with a poor work ethic, that individual will find ways to slack on the job regardless of their location, but of course there’s more chance of this if they aren’t physically there.
There’s no doubt that it’s harder to build relationships with other colleagues when you’re out of the office space or if there isn’t an office space. So, as a business owner or manager, it’s imperative that you make room in the calendar year to build an interactive culture, majoring on trust. It’s important to convene a couple of times a year at work events which incorporate business-based presentations and workshops etc. as well as fun and social aspects. It’s the perfect way to connect otherwise disconnected (location-wise) colleagues. These types of events which help individuals to get to know one another and bond, is a great way to build and sustain your culture and improve relationships. Face-to-face interactions permit a level of trust which can be difficult to maintain from a distance.
Arguably the single most important aspect of working remotely. What you need to do is ensure planning and organisation are at the top of your list. And when we say this, we mean that you need to set aside time to consistently and regularly communicate. Of course your busy schedule can make this difficult, however, make the time to have a regular phone call, Skype session or suchlike. Emails are a necessity, but verbal communication is key. Regular team meetings are also beneficial to all members in order to re-group, address any issues and set the goals for that period.
Communication and modes of communication obviously change quite a bit and the ability to communicate efficiently and effectively becomes even more important. The effectiveness of a remote team relies heavily on employees who are accountable to the company, your clients, and the work. Although this accountability is important even when everyone is onsite, it becomes paramount when the workplace is at home or on-the-road.
To make working from home actually work, the policy needs to apply to the entire company. Uniformity is key and shouldn’t only apply to one or two employees. Done right, it can help your whole team with maintaining a great work-life balance, which in turn can be hugely motivating.
You may have employees working from home each and every day. However, if you offer this on select days of the week to local employees, we would suggest offering this mid-week as opposed to a Monday or a Friday which could simply be viewed as a continuation of the weekend. In addition, remote working at the start or the end of the week could encourage working whilst on annual leave and can make people more unproductive.
Scheduling this in mid-week creates a break from the workplace and the commute and re-energises employees for the remainder of the week. It can cut down on absenteeism and could make for a more productive and collaborative team.
Yes this is common sense, but It’s important to encourage your team to work from a dedicated work station at home as opposed to the bedroom or the sofa! It’s good to feel like you’re ‘going-to-work at home because if you stay in your joggers, with the curtains closed, with your laptop on your bed, we don’t believe you’ll do your best work. Not everyone has the ability to create an actual office in their home. However, get showered, dressed and go to the kitchen table where some order can be created and your employees will work better.
It’s important to note that some aspects of working remotely will not appeal to all of your employees; for example, the lack of “face time” could cause dissatisfaction that would eventually lead an employee to seek other employment. However, as you can see, working from home is not only a necessity for some businesses and employees, but you can really make it work by putting some simple procedures in place.
Should you need any further assistance on this subject or for any other HR matter, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01453 297557 or email email@example.com.