Communication and engagement
Employers should recognise the need to have clear and regular communication with employees, using fully accessible channels to reinforce key messages, especially when part or all of the workforce is working from home. The physical and mental health of employees should still continue to be supported.
A clear message from employers and trade unions is that building and maintaining employee confidence, wellbeing and a sense of fairness between homeworkers and those attending the workplace is vitally important and a challenge that should not be underestimated.
Workers should have the opportunity to be involved in the review of an employer’s work from home policy, especially as we progress through the phases of recovery.
Employers and workers should work together to agree the method and frequency of communication, on a one-to-one and team basis, to ensure there is regular and clear communication and those working from home feel included in work issues and decisions. Employers should also facilitate trade unions to maintain contact with homeworkers both individually and collectively.
Employers should pay attention to specific communication needs, such as those on maternity leave, disabled employees or ethnic minority staff who may want to raise concerns about the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19.
Flexibility Works have guidance on practical tips for managing remote workers. CIPD also have tips on managing remotely amongst other advice on homeworking.
Timewise have also produced guides on flexible working, including working from home and advice and information for line managers.
Employers should update workers on workplace developments and ensure workers feel supported, while workers should make sure they are able to communicate any issues they are having while working from home with their manager.
Employers may wish to encourage and facilitate staff to communicate socially which can have positive mental health benefits and improve wellbeing. Employers could encourage employees to establish support networks, for example a Parents and Carers Network, and signpost to specific advice such as Parent Club.
An organisation may wish to encourage their leadership to increase their communication, both directly and via blogs or newsletters, to allow workers to understand strategic decision-making efforts and feel connected to the direction of their organisation.
Workers should have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, and that they will be subject to the usual codes of conduct. Employers should be mindful to ensure those working from home have access to the same level of support and direction that would be available in their traditional place of work.
Employers should also be clear about their performance management procedures that will apply to homeworkers given the current constraints and that priorities and expectations are achievable. Employers should be mindful of the need to support workers during this period, particularly those with caring responsibilities.
Line managers should keep in regular contact with their workers to determine their individual needs and any additional steps that are needed to prevent discomfort, injury or adverse effect as a result of working from home arrangements. Training should also be put in place to assist line managers to effectively support staff who are working remotely.