Is Homeworking Here To Stay?

Dylan Loughlin

Naturally, the coronavirus pandemic has increased the need for employees to work from home. But as we begin to emerge out of lockdown, many employers and employees are wondering – is remote or flexible working here to stay for good?

The CIPD have found the following data through their research on remote working:

  1. More and more people are homeworking. Working mainly from home has increased by 80% in 20 years to reach 5.3% of workers. However, the majority of homeworkers do so only occasionally.
  2. 29.6% of people worked from home in the past 12 months, though a further 8.5% of people had the option to do so but did not exercise it.
  3. Age is a key determinant of working from home. Older workers are more likely to be in the ‘mainly work from home’ category. The ageing workforce is a reason for the increase in the number of people working from home. Occasional homeworking peaks in middle age.
  4. Homeworking is most prevalent in high-skilled professional and managerial occupations. For example, managers, directors and other senior officials and people in professional occupations most commonly work from home, with process, plant and machine operatives and those in elementary occupations least likely to.
  5. Homeworking differs by industry. In the information and communication industry, more than half of workers work from home. In accommodation and food services, fewer than one in ten people work from home.
  6. Technology is a huge driver, with the transition to digital having a profound effect on the way we work. Surveys show that not only do most jobs involve a computer, but for most jobs the use of a computer is essential. This has combined with a huge increase in household internet access over the last two decades to mean that many more people are able to work from home if their jobs allow.
  7. Increased commuting time is another driver. People who occasionally work from home have a nine-minute longer journey time than those who do not. It is not clear whether longer commutes are leading people to work from home, or the ability to work from home is facilitating longer commutes.
  8. Some jobs are less amendable to homeworking, but the same factors that make homeworking difficult make these jobs hard to offshore.
  9. Technology alone won’t ensure homeworking. Employers should establish new norms, particularly around communication and collaboration. Technology can help, but culture change needs to embed it.

Homeworking can be really beneficial for individuals and organisations. Homeworking means working from home on an occasional, a temporary or a permanent basis. It could be a one-off day. It could be a new pattern of working partly from home. It could be working entirely from home for a fixed period or indefinitely. There are lots of options.

Homeworking does not entitle an employee to choose when and how they work. It simply means that the employee does her job from home. Contractual obligations, including core working hours, continue to apply.

There are various reasons why an employee might want or need to work from home on a particular day or for a short period. These could include:

  • logistical difficulties in getting to work, for example on a snow day;
  • needing to concentrate on a work document in a quiet environment.

A business needs to consider if jobs can be carried out from home, therefore they will need to be satisfied that your role is one that is suited to homeworking (not all are).

An employee will also need to have the personal attributes and skills that mean they should be able to do their job effectively from home. Things like:

· the ability to work independently;

· self-motivation;

· self-discipline;

· good time management;

· the ability, through remote technology, to access materials you will need and speak with people you’ll need to speak with;

· being able to separate work life and home life.

A company can consider a personnel record, including recent conduct and performance levels and any unexpired warnings.

Additionally, home environments must be suitable for homeworking- this includes having a decent working area, and a reasonably strong internet connection.

Businesses will need to effectively manage home workers. Employees who work from home are subject to the same rules, procedures and expected standard of conduct and performance as all other employees. Contractual obligations, duties and responsibilities remain in place, as do our workplace policies.

The business will want the employee to remain as involved as possible in the business and activities while they are working from home. This includes having access to company news, events and benefits, as well as opportunities for professional development, training and promotion.

The business will keep in regular contact with you during your homeworking via phone, email, video conferencing and face-to-face meetings. If at any point an employee feels isolated, left out, or lacking guidance or support they should discuss this with their manager.

If an employee cannot work on a homeworking day because of illness or injury, they must follow the procedure set out in the Absence Management Policy.

There are many other considerations in relation to homeworking, and wether you want this to continue beyond the pandemic. If you have any queries, get in touch.

– Dylan Loughlin, Director

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