How to manage employees that work from home

Home working is an increasingly popular workplace commodity. Research* shows it’s increased by nearly quarter of a million in the last decade alone, and it’s predicted half the UK’s workforce will clock in remotely by 2020.

It’s perhaps no surprise either. Increased productivity, work-life balance, job enjoyment, morale and retention rates are just some of the benefits that come hand-in-hand with home working. But how do you manage employees who’re out of sight, we hear you wonder? Here are some of our top tips…

 

  1. Be clear from the get-go

To ensure both you and the home worker are on the same page, from day one, be clear and transparent with your expectations for things like:

  • Work hours and availability
  • Weekly tasks and scheduled meetings
  • Lunch breaks – do they have to be taken at a set time?
  • Whether or not they have to log their work.

To avoid any disputes arising down the line, it’s a good idea to put all this in writing so you have tangible evidence of what both parties agreed to.

 

  1. Monitor performance

When you’re in the same building it’s easier to keep an eye on employees. You can hear when chit-chat becomes too much. You can spot if an employee’s on their phone all the time. And you can see when someone’s constantly clocking in late.

Because this won’t be visible to you for home workers, trust is increasingly key. But even if you have that trust, monitoring employees’ performance – as you would with in-house employees – is a must. It’ll help you identify any dips in performance, get to the bottom of them, and nip any issues in the bud.

Tip: if you suspect a home worker’s taking the biscuit, ask them to track their tasks and indicate how long each is taking them. To avoid singling individuals out though, it’s best to take a blanket approach, which will also enable you to compare and benchmark the workflow and rate of all your home workers.

 

  1. Encourage regular, random communication

Having a rapport with home workers is an important yet often neglected factor. It strengthens the manager-employee relationship, helps the individual still feel part of the team, and will ensure the remote worker feels comfortable coming forward with any questions, concerns or creativity.

Having an online messaging tool (like Skype, for example) or simply messaging over text are easy ways to harness this.

 

  1. Have more formal, face-to-face meetings

Whether it’s every month or every quarter, arrange for home workers to come up to your premises for a face-to-face meeting. During this session, discuss their performance, ask how they’re finding their set-up, set new goals, and give them plenty of opportunity to raise any questions or concerns.

Albeit infrequently, having that physical time together helps to understand one another better and, sometimes, employees will feel more comfortable getting things off their chest in person.

 

  1. Don’t forget about them

Out of sight certainly doesn’t mean out of mind. Don’t let remote workers slip under the radar and remember to include them in meetings and decisions that involve and affect them. If you don’t, you run the risk of them feeling disengaged, de-valued and disgruntled.

Inclusion extends beyond the remit of their role, too. Even if they decline because of the distance, always invite home workers to team outings and Christmas parties, for example, and try to include them in any office activities in some way. These are both really important to ensure they remain engaged and invested in your business.

 

  1. Watch out for burnout

You hear a lot about managers worrying home workers might be slacking, but at the other end of the spectrum, the exact opposite could be happening without you knowing.

When you’re working from afar, you can’t see the physical signs of an employee who’s burnt out; you’re relying solely on them telling you. To combat this, it’s important to encourage a healthy work-life balance among home workers, and keep on top of things like whether or not they’re taking their lunch break.

 

Who’s managing your workload?

From tracking holidays and dealing with disciplinaries to logging lateness and managing maternity leave, life as a business owner is a constant juggle, and we really do understand that.

To see how our HR & Employment Law experts can start saving you invaluable time, money and stress today, get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or hello@citation.co.uk. And if you’re already a Citation client, remember, we’re available day and night with our advice line.

*Conducted by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

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