Today we saw Boris Johnson advise us in England that once again, we should work from home if we can.
So what does that actually mean?
It may be useful for the Government to make statements such as this, but they are vague by nature and can, and do, cause employees and employers confusion as to what they mean.
The Government does recognise that not all roles can be performed at home and gives the example of retail and construction. It also appears to recognise that technology is usually the detemining factor as to whether someone can work from home. Sadly not everyone’s technology is equal and not everyone wants or is able to work well from home. Small businesses may find this particularly difficult.
We believe the Government believes it to be office workers who are most likely to be able to work from home. It’s true many office workers perhaps do have roles where the location of where they work can be flexible, but we believe it is for the employer to decide whether the employee can work from home.
Employees may want to work from home, but let’s be honest, may not be as productive as if they were at work. Indeed they may not be competent to perform the role unsupervised. What happens when the Office Junior has no supervision, they are made redundant is what happens. No one wants to see that.
Employees may be asking their employers today whether they can work from home from tomorrow. Does that then give the impression that workplaces are unsafe? Not necessarily. Have workplaces been proven to be the location where COVID-19 is spreading? I was of the opinion that contact tracing had identified that we are picking up the virus from our social interactions, not our workplaces, which should by now, be COVID secure.
So what do you need to do if your employee asks if they can work from home. You need to ask yourselves some questions?
- How does the employee feel? Are they asking because they are scared? How does working from home make them feel?
- Is the role set up for this?
- Will our customers be negatively impacted by this move?
- Do you have the available equipment in place?
- Is there a home working policy in place?
- Is the person able to work at an acceptable level of productivity when at home?
- Will other people in their household be there when work takes place, and how will this be managed?
- If this has been done previously, what was the overall outcome?
- How can we combine working in the office/and homeworking to get the best of both worlds?
- Does this suit the needs of the business given we have made the workplace COVID secure?
Not everyone will want to work from home. Some people’s homes aren’t set up for work to be performed there. We believe employers shouldn’t feel compelled to send people home until the measure from Government’s position changes to that of a national lockdown.
Here at Redwing we recognise that our team members can work from home if needed. We are set up with everyone having a laptop, printer, high speed internet and mobile phone. Do we like working from home? It depends. We work best when we are together. We believe we need a ‘blended’ approach and we believe this works for other businesses too. We don’t have a free for all, and individuals work from the office on pre-determined days so we have cover for our customers. We believe our culture comes from working together and we wouldn’t want to work remotely on a permanent basis. What’s your experience?
If you need any assistance with a home working policy we have one here on our shop site.
If you need any assistance with any aspect of managing your employees please contact us on 01527 306066.