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Coronavirus and Homeworking: Key Employer Considerations

19/03/2020

At a glance

Homeworking has become an increasingly popular method of working, as a recent CIPD survey found that nearly one-third of employees worked from home on at least some occasions. But with Boris Johnson earlier this week announcing that people should work from home where possible in order to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, that number has already massively increased. So, what are the key issues that employers need to consider to ensure that a productive homeworking environment can be nurtured?

  • If you already have a homeworking policy, check that it is relevant and up to date. If it is, make it readily available to staff. If not, consider creating a policy suitable for your business.
  • Make arrangements to enable staff to communicate effectively with customers, suppliers and colleagues. There are superb video and audio conference calls facilities available.
  • With reduced social interaction inevitable for those working from home, what steps can you take to foster collegiality?
  • Do employees need to be provided with services and equipment to enable them to work from home? Most employees will already have Wi-Fi, but do they need to be provided with, or be allowed to expense, computers and printers?
  • Do targets need to be set, and can these be readily measured while working from home? Do you need to check that employees are working their regular hours?
  • Can support be provided to employees who have school-aged children? With all schools now shut, this is an important consideration for many employees.
  • Consider any health and safety issues that employees may raise. The requirement for employers to take reasonable care to ensure they provide a safe place and system of work still applies to home workers.
  • It may be appropriate to remind employees that confidentiality continues to apply when working from home. Think about if any practical measures can be taken to minimise risk.

The sudden move to homeworking will present challenges for many businesses. But with some preparation, a bit of trial and error, and goodwill from all sides, a productive homeworking environment can be nurtured.

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