Around 8.7 million people of the United Kingdom workforce said they have worked from home, according to data from the Office of National Statistics. That is just below 30 percent of the UK workforce and by the end of 2020, it is estimated that 50 percent of the workforce will be working from home. Many firms are discovering the benefits of offering work from home policies such as increased employee productivity and heightened employee morale. However, these benefits are not automatic. From keeping your remote workers connected to ensuring their productivity remains at the optimal level, it is only with the right employee setup and management that businesses can experience the true success of having work-from-home employees.
Work-from-home arrangements do not necessarily suit every employee or every job. Creative careers such as writing or software design are seen as some of the most suitable roles for work-from-home employees. Besides assessing job-specific skills like their ability to sketch anatomy diagrams using directions, The Association of Taxation Technicians also lists some of the skills needed for home working employees such as self-motivation, self-sufficiency, time management, and IT knowledge. For example, an artist may possess good human anatomy drawing skills but may need constant supervision to produce high-quality work. These qualities can be pinpointed using previous on-site work performance. Does the individual constantly miss work deadlines? Do they need supervision and direction throughout the day? If the answer is yes, a transition to working from home may not be a good fit.
Be sure to make scenario questions a part of your evaluation package when considering work-from-home employees. Many employees working from home do so with their own set of distractions such as young children or home emergencies. Knowing how they will handle these situations and whether it will affect their work is key in gauging their ability to work under pressure and maintain the standard that is expected of them.
You may also want to break up the day to day working schedule with project-related work, or Online Training Courses. These can help upskill and increase the diversity of their working capabilities.
Another key part of ensuring the success of work-from-home employees is equipping them with the right tools to do their work remotely. These include company-specific software such as accounting or design software programs alongside standard time management and communication tools to keep track of productivity. These tools will also help you as their leader effectively manage your remote team while they are not on-site. Something that often proves to be an issue in remote working.
For time management and attendance monitoring, a mobile time attendance program can be useful. Some examples of time management tools used by remote workers include Roadmap App, Time Doctor, and HiveDesk. Other tools that may be included in a remote working package include file-sharing programs for collaboration like Dropbox, cybersecurity software including firewalls, and video conferencing tools such as Skype for Business or Zoom.
A common complaint of work-from-home employees is poor communication. The Institute of Leadership and Management found that poor communication and working practices are increasing amongst remote working, with 88 percent of workers struggling with miscommunication. Inadequate/ unclear communication plus a lack of shared identity have been reported as some of the leading barriers. This leads to ineffective working for employees working remotely, including those working from home.
To overcome this, you must implement clear communication policies for work-from-home employees. This will help them feel included and improve feedback should they need it. According to the ILM’s recommendations, scheduling regular team meetings using audio or video conferencing software can greatly reduce this conflict. In addition, try to replace email communications with video or audio where you can. You can also encourage the use of team collaboration tools like Slack to ensure instantaneous communication.
Working from home is not for every employee or manager. However, with the right team and policies in place, you can have great success with this type of working arrangement.
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