Seven Tips for Working From Home

Seven Tips for Working Remotely

Some call it Lockdown 2.0 others call it the second lockdown but one thing is for sure and that is that more workplaces will go back to remote working, we have Seven tips for those staff who are working from home, and how to effectively manage your team remotely: –

  1. Don’t Forget About Data And GDPR

Out of sight may be out of mind but it is important to remember your legal obligations around data. It is also just as important to remind staff about data protection. This may include making sure that they they have headphones if they are taking phone calls in the presence of others. Making provisions for the disposal of confidential waste, this could include investing in a shredder and not leaving their computer or laptop open when they step away from their desk.

2. Set Up A Designated Workplace

It is important that staff try as much as possible to keep their workspace separate from their home space.

If they have space, a home office, spare bedroom, or some other dedicated area that offers privacy is the best option.

This way, work can be separated from home life more easily. It will help staff to focus on their work and not be distracted by the little jobs that always need doing around the home. It also means that they will be able to enjoy their down time without thinking about work.

3. Work Safely with Equipment

Employers are still responsible for the health and safety of employees and whilst you cannot pop round to their homes, you can talk to them about protecting their health.

One easy thing you can do is to ask your staff to complete a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) questionnaire. You can find this here https://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/ and it is free to fill in.

Remote working also may mean that your staff are working around the kitchen table, on an ironing board or some other makeshift office space. This is not always good for posture and it is, therefore, important to remind staff to take regular breaks and stretch their muscles

4.Keep Connected

Remote working can get lonely and we all know that of a lot of people have suffered with their mental health over recent months.

It is, therefore,  important for employees to stay connected with each other as well as the boss.

Hold regular video meetings or phone calls to keep in touch with everyone. Ask staff what they are working on and encourage them to share what’s on their minds.

We know that video meetings are not a substitute for human contact but they are still very good. Most people communicate with more than just words – we use eye contact, facial expressions and other forms of body language to convey how we are feeling.

We have found that daily video meetings with the whole team each morning have been helpful in building and maintaining a working and personal relationship

5.Be Clear About Your Expectations

Everyone thrives on structure, including your staff. Employees will have core hours that they are expected to work. It is important to remind staff of this and that they are expected to stick to their core hours as much as possible.

Of course, this may not always be possible but staff should communicate with management if they are experiencing difficulties in this area.

Be clear and realistic about your expectations; this is not a chance for staff to make unreasonable mistakes, be rude to customers or to spend very little time working. If staff are struggling to work in their normal hours then consider moving their hours temporarily; you may get more output early in the morning or late in the evening.

Remember though that you may still need to look at capability or disciplinary procedures.

6.Get dressed

Encourage staff to get up and get dressed as if the day were a normal working day and they were commuting to their workplace.

Changing into work clothes can help staff to mentally prepare for the day and make the switch from home life to work mode, and will also help to distinguish between ‘homeworking’ and ‘home life’.

This will be a personal choice though, we all know someone who will work in smart jacket and pyjama bottoms.

7.Ask for Help and Support

Remember to ask for help and/or support when you need it. These times are tough for us all and we all need to support each other as much as possible

You should also encourage your staff to talk to you and ask for further support and guidance if needed.

Remember that you are all part of a team and should be supporting each other as much as possible, especially remotely.

We hope these tips are of use to you. If you have other tips that you find successful, please do share them with us.

We are hear to help with Employment Law and HR. If you have further questions or you are in need of some support you can contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

Jemma’s experience and tips for managing teams remotely during the pandemic

This month’s blog is all about managing a team remotely. Probably for the first time in history more businesses than I care to imagine are managing whole teams remotely and whilst that can be good it certainly comes with some challenges.

At Orchard Employment Law we have always had an element of working home but it was nothing like this. We still tried to have an office day together at least once a week, however, since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the introduction of the term self-isolating, we have been working from home since 17th March 2020.

The biggest challenge was not doing the work. We try to be eco friendly where possible, our clients have always been able to contact us via telephone, email, and video conferencing. We have a CRM, a cloud storage system, electronic invoicing, and the ability to sign things electronically so we can technically work from anywhere. My preference would be a beach in the Caribbean but a few sunny days in the UK will have to suffice.

The challenge was and is keeping the team happy and motivated. Not one to do things by half, I onboarded a new member of staff at a time when we are compelled to work remotely. So I want to share some of the tips that might help other managers during this time.

 

  • Health and safety

 

For many working from home was not planned, this means your staff could be working around the kitchen table, on an ironing board or some other makeshift office space. Employers are still responsible for the health and safety of employees and whilst you cannot pop round to their home at the moment you can talk to them about protecting their health. One easy thing you can do is to ask your staff to complete a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) questionnaire. You can find this online and it is free to fill in.

 

  • Let clients know that team members are working remotely

 

This will help to manage the client’s expectations and ultimately relieve some of the pressure from you and your team. Your clients will probably understand your position and may well be working from home too.

 

  • Have daily video meetings.

 

Zoom, Skype, BlueJeans, Whatsapp, Google hangouts and all of the other video conferencing apps are not a substitute for human contact but they are still very good. Most people communicate with more than just words, we use eye contact, facial expressions and other forms of body language to convey how we are feeling.

We have found that daily video meetings with the whole team each morning have been helpful in building and maintaining a working and personal relationship. 

 

  • Have a plan

 

I am not usually one to plan each day but in times of uncertainty, it is even more important for staff to have a sense of leadership and direction. I have found it useful to have a written plan for the next day. This plan is then used in the daily morning video meetings.

 

  • Understand the plan won’t always go to plan

 

Sometimes stuff happens, sometimes the best plan in the world can’t be followed through. This could be for a number of reasons. A piece of technology could fail, the internet might be slow, a client may do something different, your staff might have a personal concern or there could be a power cut.

It is ok if the plan doesn’t go to plan. 

 

  • Acknowledge that your people are people

 

This is not like being at work in the office and it is probably not like the usual working from home. The house might be full of people they live with, your staff may be trying to homeschool, the neighbors might be noisy, the dog might be barking or they could just be feeling stressed due to the pandemic.

Take all of these things into consideration and let your staff know that you are available to talk.

 

  • Be clear about your expectations of work

 

You may have acknowledged that your people are dealing with a lot of unusual external factors but the work still has to be done right?

Be clear and realistic about your expectations, this is not a chance for staff to make unreasonable mistakes, be rude to customers or to spend very little time working. If staff are struggling to work in their normal hours consider moving their hours temporarily, you may get more output early in the morning or late in the evening.

Sometimes you may still need to look at capability or disciplinary procedures.

 

  • Open your eyes to flaws in your systems and processes

 

This may be an opportunity to see weaknesses in a system that you believed was functional. Now is the perfect time to take feedback from staff on processes that could be improved to aid remote working. The chances are that it will strengthen the business in the long run.

 

  • Keep giving feedback

 

Don’t forget to provide reassurance and positive feedback when you can, it will help to boost morale. At the same time let staff know what can be improved, provide training and examples remotely if possible.

 

  • Have a switch-off time

 

Try not to contact staff on non-working days and outside of working hours. Encourage your team to switch the emails off and to divert phone calls so that they can switch their brain off from work. This will help with their mental health and stress levels.

Ask for help

We are here to help you with your queries about Employment Law, HR or general managing people. Contact us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog,

Jemma