We've bundled our latest Frequently Asked Questions on Homeworking from our clients. Here we help you understand some of the issues around performance from employees still working from home.
Can I insist that a homeworking employee attend the workplace on a regular basis?
This is a question often being asked where employees were previously working from the business premises but are now working from home.
The simple answer is yes of course you can.
Most employees that were office based will have the base of their employment listed as the company premises on their contract of employment. Providing the Company has taken steps to ensure the workplace meets the Covid secure guidelines, so you are not placing your employees at risk, then it is perfectly reasonable to request they attend the business premises as needed.
Clearly communicating the expectation of how often you may expect an employee to work from the office for example and for what purpose is critical. If employees feel there is no need or purpose to them being at your premises, then you may meet some resistance when the current guidance being issued is to work from home where possible.
If an employee refuses reasonable requests to attend the business premises, then it may be a situation which requires disciplinary action to be taken – always get advice on this before proceeding.
Where you have employees that are permanently homeworking and may well have their base of work listed as their home address on an employment contract then it is always advised that a homeworking agreement is in place to outline the requirements for them attending the company premises. Again, setting clear expectations. It may well be that you are in a position where your workers are more widely spread geographically and therefore the demand to be at the business premises may be very specific, for example for team or client meetings.
Again, in this situation, if an employee is refusing reasonable requests to attend the business premises then this may be reason to take disciplinary action.
What can I do if I suspect homeworkers are not working their full hours?
For a business owner used to having their workforce in their premises where they can see and hear the activity that happens on a day to day basis then having homeworkers may feel like losing control of how your teams work.
As homeworking has become a more permanent feature for many businesses it is important that you perhaps consider the following top tips:
Set clear expectations
You can document a homeworker agreement which makes clear how you want the arrangement for homeworking to work. This can set out whether there is any flexibility to when an employees contracted hours are worked or whether they need to be working as if they were at the business premises within set hours.
You will often get a greater level of output and loyalty from your team if you are able to extend some flexibility to allow them to accommodate other commitments such as family / school runs etc.. If their role doesn’t require them to be available at set times then putting your trust in your team to do their roles can pay dividends.
Consider output not hours
An increasingly popular way of working which suits homeworking perfectly is agreeing what the outputs or results should be from your employees and rather than thinking they work set hours, they work the hours needed to achieve the outputs agreed.
What check in’s do you have with your team during the working day as a progress check? Think about putting these in place so you can monitor workloads and reach out to those that may need any help or support.
What you can lose when your team works from home are those ‘water cooler moments’. The natural breaks you get in a business premises where you stop and chat on your way to the photocopier or to get a drink. Why not have scheduled social time for you and your teams so you are giving permission for the chit chat that can help form relationships but also is often a way of keeping your ear to the ground for what is happening in the workplace?
Of course, if you feel an employee is abusing the flexibility of homeworking then you may need to take a more formal approach through your disciplinary process if you have raised your concerns informally and seen no improvement.
What is the contact strategy for someone working at home, I don’t want to micro manage but I don’t want them to feel isolated?
Getting the balance between micro managing and leaving staff to get on with their work is only achieved by communication and putting a plan in place from the beginning.
- Decide how the daily contact will take place, video calling, phone call, group or individual. This can differ from person to person and allow the employee to suggest how they would like to be contacted
- Consider how you can record the work your team has in progress and make this visible – this is then easy to review.
- Plan some time for non-work related conversation. Everyone like to have chit chat at work and this is no different when working from home, ask about their family or what they did the previous evening.
- If you had weekly or monthly meetings ensure these still happen to ensure consistency.
Working from home doesn’t always work for everyone and so having the time just to check in with your employees regularly can flag in any concerns before they start to impact on the performance or wellbeing of your staff.
We would always advise having a Home Working Policy in place to clearly outline how Homeworking will work in practice and also be open to reviewing this. For more advice and guidance on the obligations you have as an Employer for Homeworkers, please contact us on 0844 8797286.
To find all our FAQ's on homeworking visit our designated FAQ page here: https://www.questconsultingservices.co.uk/faqs
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