The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic introduced many to remote working (or ‘working from home’). Even now, that the worst of the pandemic appears to be over, many workplaces continue to work remotely or employ a hybrid model, with employees being in the office only on certain days. While there are many perks to working remotely, there are also downsides and it is important that employers know how to support any remote workers. Read this blog to find out more.
Implement a clear policy
Working remotely comes with some uncertainty and staff may not know if or when they may be asked to be in the office. To clearly set out what your workplace policies regarding remote working are, you should adopt a Working from home policy.
A working from home policy sets out an employer’s approach to home working. It acts as an agreement between the employer and the employee that defines who is eligible to work from home, the process for requesting to work from home, as well as the approval process. By having in place a clear and easily-accessible policy, you can help put your staff members’ minds at ease.
Encourage clear boundaries
With remote working comes the difficulty that staff no longer have a physical separation between their home and the workplace. Without a commute, which indicates the start and end of the workday, staff members may find it difficult to separate their working time from their personal time. This can result in staff constantly feeling like they are in work mode and can exacerbate stress levels. This is especially important as stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of all work-related ill health cases in 2021.
With 30% of workers reporting an increase in their hours whilst working from home, employers should encourage remote workers to set clear boundaries between their work and personal lives. Managers should emphasise the importance of a clear work-life balance and should encourage staff to stick to their regular working hours and take breaks regularly. If someone is regularly working or sending emails outside of their normal working hours, managers should speak to them to ensure they aren’t struggling or suffering from heightened stress levels.
Stay in touch
A key benefit of office working is the ability to speak to others and ask for support as and when needed. By working remotely, remote workers do not benefit from this – in fact, up to 60% of workers reported feeling less connected to teams and colleagues while working from home.
As a result, employers need to work extra hard to maintain a strong relationship between the employer and the member of staff. Managers should set up frequent one-on-one meetings with remote workers and check in with staff to ensure that these meetings meet their needs.
Foster an open working environment
Employers should work towards fostering an open working environment where staff members feel comfortable talking about any difficulties they may face. One of the main hurdles to remote working is loneliness.
Care must be taken to stay connected with remote staff members, to ensure they are supported and feel able to raise any concerns they may have. Employers should encourage open conversation about mental health to help support staff. Managers should also be trained to recognise if a member of staff is struggling.
For more information on supporting well-being in the workplace, read How to promote mental well-being in the workplace.
Employers need to make sure they tailor their approach towards remote workers according to their business and workers’ needs. This will also include complying with health and safety and first aid obligations for any remote workers. Remember that you can always Ask a lawyer if you have any questions or concerns about remote working.
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