Adjusting to working from home: top tips for employers and managers
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
As an employer, you should talk to your staff about working from home arrangements and consider which roles and tasks can be done from home – this might involve doing things differently and not assuming a role cannot be based at home. Support employees to adjust to remote working and consider individual employees' needs - for example, anyone with childcare responsibilities, a long-term health condition or a disability. Find more advice on how to support employees through the Covid-19 crisis here.
Setting clear expectations
Changing to homeworking may be a challenge for many managers and employees, particularly if they're used to working together face-to-face. It's important to build up a healthy relationship of trust and confidence. Employers and managers should make sure that everyone working from home knows what's expected of them.
- Agreeing ways of working. Make sure every team member is clear about how you will work together remotely, how you keep each other updated, and how frequently.
- Showing the big picture but being prepared to flex. Remind your team about the big picture and how their work fits into it. Review short-term goals regularly and adjust as needed. If some members can’t carry out all their usual work, consider other skills they can lend to others to meet team goals.
- Setting expectations and trusting your team. Be clear about mutual expectations and trust your team to get on without micromanaging. Focus on results rather than activity.
- Making sure team members have the support and equipment they need. This includes any coaching they might need to use online systems or work remotely. Keep your calendar visible and maintain a virtual open door.
- Having a weekly virtual huddle. This is essential for keeping connected as a team, to check in on each other’s well-being and keep workflow on track. It doesn’t have to be long, but regularity is key.
- Keeping the rhythm of regular one-to-ones and team meetings. This maintains a sense of structure and continuity for all.
- Sharing information and encouraging your team to do the same. Without face-to-face interactions, opportunities to pick up information in passing are more limited. Share appropriate updates or learnings from other meetings and projects and invite your team to do the same.
- Tailoring your feedback and communications. People can be more sensitive if they’re feeling isolated or anxious, so take this into account when talking or writing. Communicate regularly, not just when things go wrong, whether it’s information, praise or criticism.
- Listening closely and reading between the lines. Not being in the same room means you don't have extra information from body language or tone to get the sense of what people are thinking or feeling, particularly in more difficult conversations. Hone in on what’s not being said and ask questions to clarify your interpretation.
- Helping to foster relationships and well-being. Make time for social conversations. This increases rapport and eases communication between people who may not meet often. It also reduces feelings of isolation.
To help prepare your workplace you can use the preparing for homeworking questionnaire from CIPD.
Work-life balance and wellbeing
It's likely that employers and employees are experiencing a high level of stress and anxiety at the moment. It's important for employees to take regular breaks and create a new routine. Get dressed in the morning and if possible (and if you don’t already have an office) dedicate a space in your house for working only, so you can better separate working hours from personal time.
Try to do other things to stay mentally and physically active outside of your working hours. This might include things like cooking, exercise, watching your favourite TV programmes or other hobbies. It's a good idea for employers to remind staff about this and even for colleagues to set up regular online live events such as cooking events, quiz nights, or even virtual Friday-night drinks to maintain connection and reduce feelings of isolation.
It's important to recognise that some employees may find it hard to motivate and organise themselves when working from home. If this happens, the manager and employee should talk about practical steps that might help.
Find out more about looking after your mental health from the Mental Health Foundation.
Working from home and childcare
If you are looking after children, talk to your employer who should be sensitive and flexible. You may be able to agree a more flexible homeworking arrangement. The same approach may be needed if you’re caring for someone else, for example an older relative or someone who's ill.
Examples of this could include:
- working different hours
- agreeing that you may not be able to work a full day or a full week
- reducing work targets
- being flexible about deadlines where possible
We know the current climate can mean your business is faced with new challenges. Whether you need staff with new skills or you have staffing shortages - we are here to help.
Contact our team on 0161 245 4942 to chat about your staffing needs.