The measures being taken to try to reduce the spread of Covid-19 have meant that more employees are working from home than ever before. For some, home working is a concept they were already used to. For others, it is a big change which presents many challenges.
Acas has published some guidance to help employers and employees with some of the challenges of home working. Above all, employers and employees are encouraged to be practical, flexible and sensitive to each other’s situation.
The Acas guidance sets out practical advice on a number of issues, including health and safety, mental and physical health, equipment and technology, setting clear expectations, and advice on working from home when looking after children.
Our own view is that once the practical side of things has been sorted out, the main focus is likely to be on keeping employees engaged and connected. Here, regular goal-setting and communication is key. One example of an effective way to do this is to set up daily team ‘check-ins’, perhaps first thing in the morning or as a virtual ‘coffee break’. This can be a good way to allocate work and to communicate top priorities, as well as checking how everyone is doing more generally.
As the Acas guidance points out, it is important for managers and employees to build up a healthy relationship of trust and confidence. Whilst this is always important, it is even more so whilst we can no longer work together face-to-face. Home working – for now the new norm – means we must all learn to communicate in new ways.