Best Practice in Managing Home Workers

Best Practice in Managing Home Workers

In 1981 approximately 1.5%1 of individuals in employment in the UK worked from home, so it was quite rare. Not surprisingly, due to Covid, in 2020 this rose to around 47%1, meaning that many employers were forced to quickly put home working policies and procedures in place. But now things are different; there are choices for employers whether it be full time in the office, hybrid working with some days in and some days at home, or full time home working.

In 2023 50% of the UK’s biggest employers2 said they were not planning to bring staff into the office full-time, which will please the 85% of those currently working from home, who said they wanted a hybrid approach to working3. So it appears that home working, in some form, is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

When considering best practice for supporting employees working at home, it’s important to consider the possible negative impact, so you can best support individuals. These include:

When considering best practice for supporting employees working at home, it’s important to consider the possible negative impact, so you can best support individuals. These include:

  • Mental health – Research has shown that up to 80% of home workers have said that their mental health has deteriated4 due to the isolation and loneliness that home working causes .
  • Physical health – the musculoskeletal problems caused by inappropriate seating or devices not positioned correctly5
  • Longer hours – research shows that remote workers are doing longer hours and taking shorter lunch breaks causing exhaustion6

For many, working at home is a positive experience offering lots of advantages, such as no commuting, flexibility and more time with family and friends. So how can managers ensure that it is positive experience for employees and also work well for the employer?

Set Clear Expectations and Goals
Clearly communicate your expectations regarding working hours and what flexibilities are acceptable. Ensure that remote workers understand their roles and responsibilities and have a clear understanding of what is expected from them. Set specific goals and objectives for remote workers and regularly track progress. Breaking down tasks into smaller milestones can help maintain focus and motivation, while also providing opportunities for feedback and recognition.

Prioritise Work-life Balance
Encourage regular breaks, set realistic expectations, and promote self-care. Respect boundaries and be mindful of different personal obligations.

Promote Regular Communication
Establish consistent channels of communication to keep remote or home workers engaged and informed. Utilise video conferences, team messaging platforms, and regular check-ins to provide updates, address concerns, and maintain a sense of connection.

Encourage a Supportive and Inclusive Work Environment
Establish virtual team work activities and collaboration. Recognise achievements and celebrate milestones.

Encourage Autonomy and Trust
Allow home workers to have autonomy and ownership over their work. Trust their expertise and judgment, and avoid micromanagement. Provide a level of flexibility and independence and you can boost motivation and productivity.

Provide the Right Tools and Resources
It’s critically important that home workers have access to the necessary tools, software, and resources to perform their tasks effectively. Invest in reliable technology, project management tools, and communication platforms that facilitate seamless collaboration and productivity.

Encourage Social Connections
Encourage home workers to connect with each other beyond work-related discussions. Create opportunities for virtual social gatherings, such as coffee breaks, virtual lunches, or informal chats to discuss hobbies and interests, or to celebrate a birthday or personal achievement. All of which will help to build relationships and promote a sense of camaraderie.

Offer Professional Development Opportunities
Support home workers in their professional growth by providing training, resources, and opportunities to enhance their skills. Offer virtual workshops, webinars, or access to online courses to encourage continuous learning and development. Provide an online platform where employees can share their knowledge, ask questions and get support with their training.

Provide Feedback and Recognition
Regularly provide constructive feedback and recognition for a job well done. Acknowledge home workers’ accomplishments and provide guidance for improvement. Recognise their efforts and contributions can boost morale and motivation.

It is important to remember, each home worker may have different needs and preferences, so it’s essential to remain adaptable and open to feedback to create an environment that supports their success

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