Working from home can bring a wide range of benefits for both businesses and employees, but it needs to be properly managed to be successful.
Monitoring and assessing the performance of people who work at home is perhaps the most significant managerial challenge. It can be helpful to measure their effectiveness in terms of their output rather than the hours they work.
Agree set goals and deadlines for particular tasks. Keep a close eye on how well the targets are being met and give feedback promptly and sensitively if things go wrong.
Training can prepare employees and help them develop the skills they need. This might include:
- self-management skills, eg in time management
- general skills, eg in using IT more effectively or writing reports
- job-specific skills
For staff who work alone, a sense of isolation is one of the factors most likely to make home working fail. As a result, it's important to put formal systems in place to ensure people feel part of the team. For example:
- frequent two-way feedback sessions about work and work-related issues
- regular scheduled visits to the workplace
- inclusion in social activities
- clear procedures to follow and people to contact if things go wrong
If an employee's job is home-based from the start, it's a good idea to carry out their induction at your premises. Home workers are more likely to be focused and productive if they have a chance to establish a clear idea of the people and company they're working for.