How to carry out remote return to work meetings successfully
Over the past year, many more businesses have employees that are working from home. While some companies are gradually returning to the office, others are set to keep their offices closed for the foreseeable future or switch a more permanent split between office and home working.
So, when it comes to return to work meetings following the sickness absence of an employee, these will need to be held via video-link or by phone much more frequently than before.
When planning a remote return to work meeting, what should I think about?
The same principles apply to remote return to work (RTW) meetings as to those that are done face-to-face.: Remember:
- Try and arrange RTWs at the start of your employee’s first day back
- Preparation is key – gather information from this and previous periods of absence as appropriate and have your organisation’s RTW form to hand
- Ensure you will not be disturbed for the meeting
- RTWs are informal meetings where you will welcome your employee back to work, discuss their recent absence, ascertain their fitness to return to work and consider any adjustments and/or risk assessments which may be required
- They are an opportunity for you to pass on any business updates or relevant communications released during the period of absence
- Remember confidentiality and to store completed RTW forms in line with Data Protection legislation
What extra points should I consider when holding a remote return to work meeting?
- Decide if you will be holding the meeting using video or by phone
- Communication is key – everything from contact with your returning employee before their return, to planning time for the RTW meeting and sending through a link if you’re using a video meeting platform
- Make sure you have a private place available to hold the meeting – confidentiality still applies
The finer details for holding your remote return to work meeting
- Check your employee is in a place where they won’t be disturbed and that they are able to talk freely
- Explain the format of the meeting. Remember, you’ve got the documentation so talk it through as you start the meeting
- Make sure you allow sufficient time for the meeting
- Understand that it is harder to pick up on small cues when you’re not meeting in person, so think about:
- how you’ll pick up any body language signals
- how you’ll realise if someone is hiding how they really feel
- Make sure you really listen and allow for periods of silence
- Let your employee know if you’ve noticed something e.g. ‘I may have got it wrong, but you appear distracted by something. Are you ok?’
- Ask if there is anything else you’ve missed
- Clearly explain any next steps identified
- Remember to send through a copy of the completed meeting form for checking, signing and return by your employee
Author: Cath Crane, Senior HR Projects Advisor at Howarths