Flexible working arrangements are becoming increasingly popular to workers in the United Kingdom, with economic, technological, and social trends all encouraging this development to continue. It is also highly likely that the COVID-19 pandemic, will have a long-term impact on flexible working, especially when it comes to working from home.
Natalie Poynton, Recruitment Team Manager of Platform Resourcing, explores the trend towards home working and what we have learnt over the pandemic period, and how businesses could benefit from these changes.
Although the initial changes of home working caused a great deal of disruption at first, after a slight interruption and some strong coordination handled by management teams, many employers were able to coordinate the logistics of how this could work for both them and their employees to keep their businesses open in such a strange time. Many have since seen this as an opportunity for people to have a better work life balance, save on expenses to and from the office and has solved many childcare issues giving parents the freedom to work longer hours.
By changing your businesses or departments set up to work from home, from a recruitment perspective you can widen the pool of candidates that you choose from. Even during these times with high rates of unemployment and increased redundancies, businesses are still struggling to attract the right candidates. If you can work remotely and employees don’t need to be situated in an office, then you can really focus on recruiting the best talent based on their skillset, experience and qualifications without having to take travel cost/ distance, working hours or even traffic into account. Home working has since become the norm and can actually be the deciding factor between accepting a new job opportunity offering that flexibility or not.
Of course, there is always an exception to the rule. Certain jobs will require working on site, for instance construction, manufacturing & engineering, retail, healthcare, and other face-to-face positions that are usually customer service based. Luckily for most, with the continuing advances in technology, online meetings have become not only easier than meeting face to face but almost the expected method of communication between Employees and businesses. Even business social networking clubs now meet online rather than face to face.
Many employers are saving on office costs including utilities, telecoms and internet expenses as well as travel costs for employees. Although there are many things to consider when putting a home working arrangement in place, from both a management, legal and HR perspective it’s important to recognise the legal implications which can be avoided by carrying out risk assessments for all staff members in their homes, once set up properly, it can be a very cost-effective way of working that can have a very positive effect on the lucky employees. There is a lot of trust involved in home working and it gives employees a chance to prove themselves, their communication skills, organisation and ability to work autonomously.
On the other hand, there is also a significant change in culture to consider once an employee has been allowed to work from home. The team dynamic will change, the employee will need to create new processes and ways of prioritising their work-loads as well as effectively communicating with their team members. Some may have many distractions, e.g. animals, children and background noise. Others may have very little interaction and may spend too much time sat alone and without conversation. There is also exercise to consider as many stay pinned to the same spot throughout the day. The most important thing to realise is that employees must be involved in the process. Sometimes it’s easy to assume that a homeworking agreement might be attractive for everybody, when in reality, everyone’s situation, outlook and needs are totally different. If home working is agreed, then this will also come with an added level of flexibility. Setting boundaries when people are working, recognised breaks and catch-ups is the key to success.
If you are in a targeted environment, you must set clear and concise guidance on how performance will be measured. This will involve regular 121 reviews with employees to ensure set KPI’s are met, quality and compliance measures are adhered to and their standard of work hasn’t faltered. To ensure moral is high within the team and employees are feeling motivated to work alone, it is also important to note successes and praise any improvements as recognition is key when working from a distance. If at any point signs of underperformance are identified, then the consideration that a home working agreement might not work for this particular employee must be considered.
On Thursday April 15th 2021 Platform Resourcing are holding an online Webinar where they have brought together a number of experts to discuss the Legal, HR and practical implications of home working for employers. This free live event will cover a range of topics to consider, from technology to management.
If you feel this would be of benefit to you and you are interested in joining the event, please register to attend here.