As the Coronavirus Pandemic continues, businesses who were previously shut are now wondering ‘can my employees work from home?’
Or, businesses who have been home working for several weeks are now reconsidering whether they need an office at all or if they can make working from home a more permanent arrangement.
Your staff may be able to work from home if that suits your business need, but there are some things that need to be considered beforehand to protect you and them; not least of which is they work from home regularly that may become their place of work rather than the office. This might mean you have to pay them an allowance for using their home as a place of work.
At Metis HR, we are employer-focused HR outsourcing and advice specialists. We often help businesses through periods of change and uncertainty.
Read on to find out how to get the most out of your employees working from home.
How Do I Implement Working From Home?
Whether you are considering staff working from home or are deciding to make it more permanent or regular, you should follow a process.
Deciding where you want your staff to work isn’t as simple as just picking somewhere and telling them. It is a fine balance between what is reasonable to ask, and what is covered in their contract of employment.
ACAS recommend the first thing you should do when considering getting your employees to work from home is have an open conversation with them. How might they feel about this? Are they worried about anything?
You should also think about which tasks can be feasibly done at home, and which might be more difficult and how you will effectively manage people who work from home.
For example, accessing a database might be currently very difficult to do at home but can be achieved. Get a good oversight of the practicalities of the tasks your staff do day to day.
You need to consider the individual needs of your staff. Managing childcare responsibilities, disabilities, and health conditions might be harder from home. Finding out individual issues and barriers to working from home will help you create a comprehensive Home Working Risk Assessment.
For example, imagine your employee comes to work whilst their partner stays at home with the children. Your employee could find it very difficult to work from home simply because their childcare is also based there.
Write down any agreements and details of the conversations you have for your records and clarity.
You should also check their employment contract to be sure you can make such changes. It is best to get a professional’s advice on this. Get in touch with us; we can help.
What Should I Do About Health And Safety When Working From Home?
You have a duty of care to your employees, and that includes health and safety. Whilst you might not currently be able to do a site check for your home based workers, you should perform some basic checks to fulfil your obligations. Once it is safe to do so, you should conduct a home visit to carry out a risk assessment.
Be sure your staff have the right equipment they need to be able to work from home. For example, if they are going to be based somewhere in the home that is distant from their router, do they need a method of boosting the signal to be able to work effectively.
Do they have a comfortable desk and chair set up to work from? Is the computer and any other portable equipment PAT tested? Do you need to make any reasonable adjustments to accommodate a disability?
What If My Employees Aren’t Productive When Working From Home?
It is a reasonable concern we often hear from employers when considering if their employees can work from home.
No one wants to be paying someone who isn’t productive. It is bad for morale and the business.
If you suspect your employee is not as productive when working from home as they are in the workplace, you follow the same process you would in the workplace. Have a look at our blog here on managing performance conversations at work.
This process can depend on the circumstances, so it is best to discuss this with one of our advisors. But the process could be:
- Discuss workload and barriers with the employee-you can do this as part of your regular appraisal or performance policy
- Set targets and expectations
- Evaluate their progress at agreed checkpoints
- Begin the disciplinary procedure if you have already discussed and agreed performance and no improvement has been made
Employees working from home shouldn’t mean out of sight, out of mind. They still need to be completing the amount of work required and you should still be facilitating that through quality management.
Anything Else I Should Consider?
When you are deciding if your employees can work from home there are other things that you should be either putting in place, implementing a policy for, or discussing with your staff.
These might include:
Working Time Directive-
How will you ensure your staff don’t accidentally work too many hours if they haven’t opted out of the Directive? How will you ensure that they take appropriate breaks?
Display Screen Equipment Legislation-
You have a duty to control the risks associated with display screen equipment. You must complete a separate risk assessment when someone sets up a new workstation at home.
How will you cover home working expenses incurred by your employee? Set a policy on what you will and won’t pay beforehand.
Does your insurance cover your equipment (phones, laptops etc) if it is used at your employees’ home? If not, you may wish to consider putting the onus for covering company equipment on the employee’s home contents insurance.
How will you communicate work and tasks to your team and monitor productivity?
Keeping In Touch
How often will you keep in touch with your staff to check in? Daily? Weekly? How will you help employees working from him feel engaged and part of the team?
How will you make sure your staff are complying with GDPR through their working practices and the technology they are using? How will you ensure that other people in the household don’t use any equipment you have issued for work use for personal use such as installing and playing games, accessing inappropriate websites?
This is not an exhaustive list and there are plenty of other things you need to think about and risk assess.
Get In Touch
As with any HR process or changes to contract, you should seek HR advice before you begin.
Mistakes can cost you dearly in tribunals so following appropriate policies and procedures and seeking advice can save you a lot of time, stress, and money. You can get in touch to find out more about our consultation services by calling us on 01706 565 332, emailing email@example.com or fill in our contact form here.