Allowing staff to work from home on either a full or part-time basis can bring a range of business benefits, including greater staff motivation and increased productivity.
The following top tips highlight key issues you should be aware of if you are considering home working as a possibility for your business.
1. Consider an employee’s job and skills: When deciding whether to let an employee work from home, you should consider if the job is suited to home working. For example, telemarketing and writing could be particularly suited to home working. The employee is also likely to need skills in a number of key areas including communication and time management. See types of work and skills suited to home working.
2. Be aware of legal requirements: When an employee starts working from home, it may be necessary to amend their written statement of their terms and conditions of employment. See employment contracts and working from or at home. You will probably need to extend your business insurance to cover equipment used by employees in their homes. See providing equipment for employees who work at home.
3. Provide appropriate equipment: As an employer, you’re likely to be responsible for providing, installing and maintaining all equipment unless the employee uses their own. Equipment you need to provide may include a desk and chair, PC or laptop and printer. See providing equipment for employees who work at home.
4. Encourage communication: For staff who work from home, a sense of isolation is one of the reasons that home working may fail. It’s therefore important to put formal systems in place to ensure people feel part of the team. See effectively manage employees who work from home.
5. Train and monitor employees: Training can help employees working from home to develop the skills they need, for example, time management or writing reports. Monitoring employees’ performance is also important to ensure targets are being met. See effectively manage employees who work from home.
6. Be aware of health and safety responsibilities: You have the same responsibilities for ensuring the health and safety of home workers as you would for staff based at your premises. Your duties are likely to include ensuring equipment is fit for purpose and that lighting levels are appropriate. See your health and safety obligations towards home workers.
7. Consider information security: You should ensure that employees adhere to data protection principles. For example, data security could be compromised if employees working from home use their work computer for personal purposes. You should make clear that the computer you provide is for business use only. You should also install anti-virus and firewall software, use passwords to control access to your network and ensure workers have read your IT policies. See how technology can facilitate working from home.