Homeworking policies - do you have everything covered?

Posted on 24th April 2020

The UK’s homeworking force has increased exponentially over the last few weeks as everyone follows government guidance but does your business have a robust homeworking policy? Here we have put together some guidance for you when considering the key points that should be included in your homeworking policy, both for now and once this period of isolation/social distancing is over.

Why are employees required to work from home?

The circumstances around the requirements for homeworkers at the present time are very different to before the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst homeworking used to be a flexible working consideration, it has now become a vital approach that businesses must consider, in order to ensure that the business can continue to operate and trained employees are retained. As well as ensuring the safety of employees during this time.

Who can work from home?

Although some roles cannot be carried out in the safety of our homes, those that can, should.

The employer should assess which roles can be carried out at home and advise their staff if they have been selected to work from home and why. Some of the selection criteria can be as follows:

  • The suitability of the job and whether the work is capable of being undertaken at
  • The impact on the level of service, efficiency and
  • Whether costs incurred are reasonable.
  • The needs of the employee for more flexible working
  • The suitability of the home
  • The suitability of the
  • The ability of the employee to cope with reduced social contact; and

Whether arrangements can be put in place for effective communication between the home working employee and the employer.

What hours do my employees need to work?

Employees are still contractually obligated to work their full core hours whilst they are working from home unless a short time working agreement has been reached.

Equipment and Connectivity

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that all homeworkers are provided with adequate resources in order to carry out their roles. This with usually include:

  • The supply of a telephone or mobile, for the exclusive purpose of business use
  • Relevant IT equipment
  • Consumables, such as printer paper and ink, and
  • The Company will bear the cost of installing, maintaining, repairing or replacing the equipment.

 Employers should also consider that the equipment which is provided is not for personal use and must be kept in the condition that it was first supplied.

Health and Safety

It remains the responsibility of the employer to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees who are working from home. The current circumstances do not allow for the employer to visit their employees at home due to isolation and social distancing rules, so employers need to consider how they will adapt their risk assessment process.

Possibilities include generating a questionnaire to all homeworking employees asking them to confirm the suitability of their environment and/or conducting Zoom or Skype meetings to assess the employees’ workspace.

Confidentiality, Security and Data Protection

All employees who are working from home are required to continue to comply with the company’s Data Protection Policy.

Any documents that the employee is required to keep must be kept safe and secure, this includes from anyone else who may live in the employees’ house.

The employer should ascertain if the employee has suitable cyber security and/or a secure network.

Insurances

Many insurance companies are offering no change to employees’ home insurance

policies due to working from home at this time but in the future this will not apply.

Employers must ensure that relevant insurances are kept up to date by both the employee and the employer.

Employee well-being while homeworking

As with previous guidance, it is important that the employer has regular contact with those who are working from home and ensures they do not feel abandoned or out of the loop and to keep the employee motivated.

Working from home can be isolating and take a lot of discipline which can be exhausting. Homeworking can be particularly stressful for those who are not used to it, so it is important that employers arrange daily catch ups, give regular praise, listen closely and read between the lines and give regular support. Some of our top tips include the following….

Agree ways of working:

  • Assess the tools available within your organisation and review whether you are missing anything.
  • Ensure you communicate fully with your staff regarding what is expected of them and find out what they expect from you.
  • Agree how you will work together and how you will keep each other updated.
  • Provide daily/weekly project plans and agree deadlines to ensure you are getting the best from your employees.

Communication and Motivation:

  • Assess which platform will be most effective for daily huddles, coffee mornings or staff meetings.
  • Share daily updates from within the business and from government advice.
  • Communicate regularly and not just when there’s bad news.
  • Give praise regularly.
  • Listen closely and read between the lines. Home in on what’s being said and ask for clarity.
  • Create a motivated and positive team spirit.
  • Empower your employees by giving support and advice.

Management:

  • Be approachable when asked for advice.
  • Listen to your employees’ views and ideas.
  • Continue to communicate your expectations.
  • Understand that your homeworking team are a priority and will need your continued support.
  • Regularly review the arrangements and keep planning for future requirements.
Should you require a homeworking policy, the consultants here at Gateway HR are here to help you build a policy to suit your needs, for now and for the future.
Emma Wynne Character
Written by:
Emma Wynne
Managing Director