Home working within the SME market is a rising trend. Flexible working, the promotion of a “work-life balance” and technological advances are all contributing factors. Home working can and does provide clear and often significant benefits for employees and employer alike, however working alone is not always without challenge. Lone workers can feel isolated and home working can bring time management and productivity issues.
It is vitally important that all employees, irrespective of whether they work in a traditional office space or at home perform optimally and here are five steps that a business can take to get the best out of its home workers.
- Keep in touch
Even though a home worker may not regularly (or ever!) set foot in your office, this should not mean that they are not an equal part of the team. Home workers should be made to feel like they are a valuable member of the company, even though they are not present in the usual sense. Regular telephone calls, emails, Skype calls and the odd off (or on!) site meeting can go a very long way to making a home worker feel engaged. An engaged employer is more likely to be a productive employee: a win, win!
- Effective Target Setting
To ensure home workers feel empowered yet remain productive and focused, employers should ensure that the company’s mission, vision and values are communicated to any home workers in the same way that they are communicated to office based staff. Ensuring that home workers are clear on their targets and related expectations also helps to promote focus and accountability. Tying regular communication with the home worker in respect of their targets into their working day or working week makes it easier for employers to manage workers who are not present in the usual sense. Only contacting home workers when something “goes wrong” is not necessarily going to result in them performing at their best.
- Share the love!
Home workers contribute to the success of a company in the same way as office based workers do and companies should put equal effort into ensuring that they contribution is recognised and valued. Make sure home workers are invited to any company events or, annual gatherings and share the love! Look at budgeting for trips for the workers to get together in person with other members of the team and invest time and effort into giving the opportunity for shared experiences. This investment of time will help employers to foster a relationship of trust with their home workers.
- Remember mental health
Home workers can often feel isolated, lonely and anxious which can, in turn lead to dis-engagement, a lack of productivity and in some cases, absence from work. Always consider a home worker’s mental health and implement the same stress management and other related policies with home workers in the same way as office workers. Consider regular well-being checks.
- Time Management
For home workers, the home turns into the office and for many, it therefore becomes hard to “switch off”. Home workers can feel overwhelmed and unable to effectively manage their time feeling like they are “always at work”. Speak to your employees about their time management skills and see if there is anything that can be done to help.
Need more advice or guidance on getting the most out of your home worker or more information on any of the points above? Email me on email@example.com or call 01274 864999.