Written by Michelle McDonagh

Read Time: 2 minutes

Covid-19 has brought about many changes in the workplace that have implications for how you communicate with and manage your employees. One of the major changes is that many of your employees may now work from home. In this article, we address a number of topics relating to Managing WFH Employees as follows:

 ·      Common Concerns of WFH Employees

·       Employers Duty of Care Remains the Same

·       What Employers Can Do to Help WFH Employees

·       Health and Safety Authority FAQs article link

·       Get a Free Managing WFH Assessment and Report

 

Common Concerns of WFH Employees

·      Isolation

Some of the common concerns of people working from home is a feeling of isolation and being disconnected from their peers.

·      Communication suffers

Working in this way also makes us realise how much we rely on body language to communicate. With people often not using their cameras during these calls, it can be difficult to make judgements on how to manage a conversation. Staff can be less likely to open up and admit they are struggling with something. A heavier reliance on email communication can also create tensions as things are misinterpreted or doubt creeps in. Face to face contact might often give reassurance in this scenario but without it, things can escalate quickly and relationships and motivations can dwindle rapidly.

·      Stress of Coping with Childcare while WFH 

If your employees are working and looking after children at the same time, this can be a source of huge stress for them. As well as the distractions this may cause, employees may shy away from unmuting their mics and contributing to video meetings such as Zoom. They may do this in order to avoid the risk of others in the meeting overhearing a noisy dispute between siblings about the Playstation or a distraught toddler arriving in to be comforted. Who can forget Professor Robert Kelly being interviewed live about South Korea on the BBC News when his small children decided to wander into the room behind him?

·      Varying Circumstances for Colleagues

Not all jobs can be carried out at home – some employees may be able to work from home whereas their colleagues who have different jobs may not be able to work from home and are being paid while not having to work. This may cause resentment and frustration among those that are still working.

·      Employees May Feel the Need to Justify Themselves

Many employees feel the need to justify themselves when they are working from home/remotely as they feel their productivity may not be as obvious now compared to when they were working in the office. See an interesting report by RTE on WFH here.

Employers Duty of Care Remains the Same

Employers still owe the same duty of care to their teams working from home. Consideration needs to be given to the safety of their working environment from a physical and mental health perspective. The HSA has published some guidance for employers who find themselves with employees who are now temporarily working from home.

What Employers Can Do to Help WFH Employees

1.    Communication

All employers will agree that good communication is essential to having motivated and happy employees, regardless of where they are working. Communication channels are especially critical to avoid WFH employees feeling isolated. i.e. daily check-in calls, weekly team meetings, regular emails or video conferencing, a weekly social coffee and informal chat about how they are getting on in this new WFH situation. Over-communication is better than under-communication in a changing context.

2.    Flexibility

Flexibility about when employees can work is important – (e.g. outside of normal business hours possibly) and may allow them to communicate with you, their boss, when a partner is available to look after the children and they feel less stressed.

3.    Provide eWorking Expenses where applicable

You can make a payment of €3.20 per workday to an eWorking employee without deducting:

This payment is to cover expenses such as heating and electricity costs. You can find out more about eWorking and Home Working Expenses here.

4.    Provide Equipment and facilities

You can provide any of the following to an eWorking employee for business use:

  • computer or laptop
  • printer
  • scanner
  • software to allow you to work from home
  • telephone, mobile and broadband
  • office furniture.

This is not a Benefit-in-Kind where private use by your employee is minimal.

5.    Write a Working From Home Policy

It would be advisable to write a working from home policy to capture what guidance the company is giving to all staff.

Health and Safety Authority FAQs for Employers on Home Working

The Health and Safety Authority have produced a FAQs document for frequently asked questions and answers which can be useful when determining whether working from home is suitable.

6.    Get a Free Managing WFH Assessment and Report

Working remotely is a huge transition for teams used to office life, and your communication might be suffering as a result of distance and change. Let me help you make it easier. Our partners at TTI Success Insights have created a resource to help employers who are looking for guidance on managing communications with WFH employees.

The Working From Home Report is a new assessment tool developed by TTI SI that will help you assess how well you are managing communication with your WFH employees. Inside the report, you’ll find:

·      How to communicate with your team when everyone is WFH

·       An Action Worksheet to help you develop communications strategies while WFH

·      Personalised work from home tips

Get the Working From Home Report here. When you complete the assessment (10 minutes) your report will come directly to you, with the Action Worksheet attached.

I strongly encourage you to share the link with your colleagues and friends so that they can avail of the free report and worksheet as well. It can be of real help to people in coping with this lockdown and communicating with family, friends and colleagues. I would love to hear any feedback you receive on the report. I hope it helps.

Need HR Advice on Covid-19-related issues?

We are currently working with SMEs to help them with HR issues that have arisen due to Coivd-19 changes. We offer our HR consultancy advice via Zoom, MS Teams, Skype or telephone.  If you need support, please email us now at michelle@aspirehr.ie or call Michelle on 086 878 2557

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©Aspire HR. This document is intended to be a general guide only.