How to effectively manage remote or home workers

2016 will see a number of new changes coming into force affecting UK employment law. With mandatory reporting of gender pay for larger companies and the introduction of the living wage for all employers, it will once again be a busy year for business owners and managers.

We’ll cover the forthcoming changes in more detail in a later blog but first, let’s look at one HR matter that is starting to affect businesses more and more – managing remote workers.

As technology has advanced, so too has the ability for people to be able to work from different locations. Since the right to flexible working requests for all workers came into force, more and more employees have sought the opportunity to incorporate working from home into their flexible working pattern.

Whilst some employers have embraced remote working, others perhaps still see the drawbacks it can bring – including the potential for distractions, a reduced ability to monitor activity and a lesser degree of team interaction.

Whilst many workers will claim that they are more productive at home, it is always a concern for employers that staff are not maximising their paid time and perhaps even abusing the privilege.

So how can managers effectively monitor remote or home workers? Here are three things to consider:

Get the technology in place

Although managers are often concerned about being able to monitor the activity of home or remote workers, if the correct technology is in place, it doesn’t have to be problematic. One popular method is to set up virtual private networks and cloud-based technology to allow remote workers to access the company’s computer system as though they were working in the office. This will usually allow employers to see what time employees log on, take time away from their desk or sign out.

Organise regular communication

Communication is key in facilitating effective home or remote working. Depending on the nature of the job and how much time employees spend working remotely, you will want to arrange regular communication accordingly. This might include a scheduled daily phone call, or less frequent communication depending on how you and your organisation work. Even where employees work remotely for the majority of the time, it would be sensible to schedule face to face meetings – perhaps on a monthly or quarterly basis – as you see fit.

Have policies in place

Whilst the above pointers are all well and good when everything is running smoothly, technical issues with IT systems or internet access could render remote workers unable to work effectively. You should put a home working policy in place that sets out the appropriate actions to take in such circumstances. On the subject of paperwork, employment contracts should be reviewed to check whether they need amending as per any change in the employee’s place of work, working hours etc. In addition to the above points, employers will also need to consider the health and safety of home or remote workers, as well as general safety and security issues, such as data protection and the confidentiality of sensitive information. For more help or information regarding managing remote workers, please get in touch.