Flexible working has long been a growing business practice in the UK as companies have noticed that it can boost morale, productivity and sustain company loyalty. As soon as there were whisperings followed by reports that Coronavirus was sweeping through the UK, many companies have begun to enforce self-isolation and are encouraging working from home.
So, what is best practice of working from home? We all remember Robert Kelly’s family ‘blooper’ becoming viral. His two little children barged into his office in the middle of a live BBC interview, only to be dragged out by his mortified wife, whilst Mr. Kelly shut his eyes and took a deep breath, echoing the sentiment of many parents who perhaps work from home but with the distraction of family life.
Coronavirus has inadvertently given us the opportunity to really delve into the ‘working from home’ etiquette on a mammoth scale. Technology makes working from home much more accessible with video conferences giving us an instant virtual boardroom with our global colleagues. Despite the distance, as humans we still need to see each other’s faces to gage response and moods. As a remotely based colleague, you worry about missing out on those ‘water cooler’ conversations. Therefore steps should be taken to ensure that video conferences are preferential to conference calls. This will help inject personality into the team and humanise a team who rarely are in the same room.
Big decisions can be made promptly and spontaneously in the office and management should ensure that important information is communicated via shared documents or messenger. Although your employees may seldom congregate in the same space, a centralised communication system can allow for all parties to be kept up to speed and ensure that there are no exclusions.
Being your own ‘time keeper’ can be difficult and some may find it hard to stay motivated and task driven when not in an office environment. Therefore keeping an ‘office-like’ routine is important: still set your alarm, make that morning coffee and dress as you would for the work place.
Many people still need to have the ‘background noise’ and a generally busy and bustling environment to get settled into work. A library or coffee shop can offer that workplace simulation if the silence at home is deafening.
Ultimately there are still two camps when it comes to WFH and how employers view this. One believes it slows productivity, the other insists their work forces are harder working and happier. There is no doubt that if used correctly, it can de-stress employees, improve productivity and save money. If you are an employer who has implemented ‘working from home’, you may have noticed less absences as employees are more likely to ‘battle through’ at home, especially if they don’t have to face the daily commute as well.
It can be a difficult transition for some companies, it may not be a suitable option at all in some cases. As an employer, not having visibility and the fear of abusing the privilege can be off putting. However ultimately what matters is getting the job done and with the Coronavirus forcing many companies to implement ‘working from home’, this could be the time to see if it fits your company or job role.