From March 2020 the county entered a national lockdown. This resulted in businesses, especially those who work in brick and mortar stores – either entering a furlough agreement or alternatively they agreed to work from home.
To some people’s surprise, working from home was beneficial, fit perfectly in their lifestyle and means that moving forward from the lockdown to a working from home environment may be a better option. On the other hand, some who fell into the ‘working from home category’ struggled with the concept.
This is where we come in, in this blog we will outline and explore the issues you may face while working from home and how these issues can be overcome.
Telecommuting has proven, amongst an array of surveys, that it increases productivity to employees and employers alike.
People are often happier working for longer in the comfort of their own home then being in an office environment. This could be for a multitude of reasons, but to name one, people who work from home are more than likely to be more comfortable in their home environment as opposed to a more “strict” office environment, resulting in less strain and therefore being happier to work and also less affected both mentally and physically by the work they do.
Employers who adopt telecommuting also save money with their overhead costs and cut down on major expenses – something we could all have a little help with in these troublesome times.
Working from home provides a comfier, less stressful and more productive working environment for most. This means that working from home discourages absences as it allows individuals to craft their own ideal working environment.
This also eradicates the chance of things such as public transport not being available, or motor issues preventing from staff making it to work, meaning that staff will typically be unavailable for work due to other, personal reasons such as illness or other extenuating circumstances which may befall them.
Having staff with a home office set up means there will be minimal distractions meaning they will produce more quality work with less mistakes. Good quality work can be expected to be produced in a shorter space of time when your staff are telecommuting, this is beneficial to the employer and employee alike.
Allows employers to hire the best talent
Working from home has no location – meetings can take place over Skype, Zoom or telephone calls can monitor whether staff are staying on the right track or not. So, if you’re an employer and you are hiring, consider telecommuting as an option.
The ideal candidate maybe miles away from your offices, but that’s the beauty of working from home… location doesn’t matter. Your perfect candidate could even be living abroad but may be able to provide your team with skills that your company needs, this is no problem when your staff telecommute.
Just be aware however, if the future candidate does live overseas things such as time zone could cause issues – as your 9am won’t necessarily be their 9am, resulting in more effort being have to put in to effectively manage and communicate workloads.
Save, save, save
It’s not a secret that most businesses could do a little more saving and be more mindful about where money is being spent, especially with the unprecedented few months we have all just endured with the coronavirus outbreak.
Telecommuting is one way of limiting costs and optimising results, for both staff and employers alike. Money can be saved on rent, providing technical equipment, electricity bills and much more – and staff save money on commuting, office wear, childcare and much more. It’s a win-win.
So if you’re a company that is able to adapt to a ‘work-from home’ environment then why not give it a go for the many benefits listed above? It provides a healthier lifestyle, more flexibility and cost effective method for you and your business, whilst keeping us all safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
And now, the cons.
Harder to develop relationships
In an environment where relationships are formed through a video call or text message it’s really hard to get to know your team in depth and talk as through you would in an office environment. This is hard for employees and employers alike however, this is how you can overcome it.
Make the effort to have a staff face-to-face meeting, but ensure that a face-to-face meeting is completely optional, as some may have very understandable reservations engaging with any face-to-face contact with people outside of their bubble even if the amount of people present is allowed under current restrictions, but do something less work related. It is more than likely your conversation will turn to a work related one, however try and do something a little more relaxed, so people can build relationships and get to know either other in a more tight-knit environment.
This could be anything (appropriate for work colleagues of course) such as a meeting in the park on a nice summer day, meet for a drink in your local pub or hire out an office for a more formal environment but keep the conversation casual.
Lack of communication
Picking up a phone, writing out a message or dialling a number for a call is a lot of effort just to ask a colleague a simple question. It is certainly a lot more difficult than just saying it aloud, when that colleague is sitting next to you in the office.
However, when you telecommute, you have to make more of an effort to keep the communication between colleagues and management good. This is easier said than done, but there are ways of making this easier for all.
You can make sure you start your day with a Zoom or Skype meeting with all of your staff members. This starts the day on a good foot, makes sure your staff are assigned their jobs for the day and gives them a motive to get out of bed, get dressed and feel prepared for the working day ahead.
All unanswered questions can be asked during this time and it gives the staff a safe place to ask anything they want, who may feel uncomfortable asking a manager directly.
Furthermore, you can create group chats on Skype or WhatsApp in order to further ease communication, as staff can have those conversations open at all times resulting in more unrestrictive communication should it be required.
Telecommuting is certainly a trust game for the employer. You have to trust that your staff will do the work from home and not do an hour or so and they find something else to do to fill their time.
This can be managed with phone calls throughout the week scheduled in to catch up on what has been done and what is yet to be done, however implement these tactfully – you don’t want to sow the idea that you don’t trust your staff to get their jobs done.
Having a good and clear communication and timekeeping schedule is integral to ensuring that your staff gets their jobs as efficiently as they would in the office.
Managing time and pay
Like we said, an advantage to working from home is the idea that staff are happy to work longer hours, however you need to make sure as an employer you are clear on what this may mean for pay.
Ensuring that your staff can meet their workload in these new conditions is imperative, in order to not enact any additional strain on them than they already have transitioning to their new environment and also the general unpleasantness of the ongoing situation.
It’s all about good communication and making sure you and your staff are understanding of each other.
There are many benefits to telecommuting, the flexibility, saving money and a healthier (and comfier) working environment. Although there can be a few downfalls, these are easily put right by making sure your communication is well thought out and relationships are well maintained and nurtured between staff and employers alike.