Homeworking – the practical stuff…
The year 2020 broke the mould in so many ways; I don’t think any of us have ever spent so much time at home. It also broke the mould for employers. It became the year of homeworking.
In fact, working from home is something that may continue in the long term as employers discover that it’s more convenient for many of their employees: it cuts down on commuting time and car pollution, it’s less expensive in terms of travel, and employees can spend more time with their families. The rise of technology like Zoom and Teams has really aided homeworking too.
‘NI Business Info’ (an online channel for business advice in Northern Ireland) explain that “Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, working from home was on the increase as many employers identified the benefits that it can bring to their business and the improved work-life balance for their employees.”
Pluses and Minuses
However, they point out that there are both advantages and disadvantages to working from home. The advantages include improved staff retention, increased productivity, better motivation, improved staff wellbeing and less sickness absence. But the disadvantages include staff feeling isolated, being easily distracted, problems with monitoring and staff development, information security risks, and decreased morale. So, working from home isn’t for everyone.
Homeworking can also prove to be expensive for employers. ‘NI Business Info’ highlight that there are “initial costs of training and providing suitable equipment such as laptops, mobile phones and other IT equipment. You will also have to consider adaptations to meet health and safety standards.”
So, what adaptations should employers be making for homeworkers?
ACAS (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has compiled a booklet called ‘Homeworking – a guide for employers and employees’, which you can access HERE.
ACAS advises that “Homeworkers need a safe and reasonable space, security and privacy in which to work, and for office-type tasks an internet connection able to support work systems.”
I know, living in rural North Wales, that a good internet connection is an immediate stumbling block for many workers!
According to ACAS, “the employer should set out:
● What the company will provide. For example, furniture, phone, phone line, Broadband, printer, fire extinguisher, paper.
● What the employee is expected to provide. For example, heating and lighting.
● Who will pay for any installation and other necessary costs, and, if required and agreed, how costs can be claimed back.
● Who the equipment belongs to, who is responsible for maintaining/moving it and how this will be done, and whether it can, or cannot, be used for personal matters by the homeworker or their family.”