Home or remote working sounds like such a dynamic concept. But there are risks for employers taking on unconventional working arrangements.
Is Remote Working Still a Privilege?
Remote working is increasingly widespread. It no longer carries with it the aura of privilege. But in becoming routine it is more open to criticism.
The London School of Economics (LSE) produced a study that shows how attitudes among home workers are changing. The long-term effect of working from home is to normalise it to the extent that the differences between office-based and remote working are disappearing.
Whereas previous studies have indicated that remote workers are more productive, it now seems that they are also likely to become resentful.
For some home workers, if the costs of their utilities or stationery are not being met, then they feel they are being taken advantage of. From the employer’s viewpoint, there are suspicions that people working remotely are not pulling their full weight and are taking advantage of the situation.
If flexible working practices grow then, in the future, many employees may see them as an entitlement. And have unrealistic expectations around them.
A Period of Transition
While remote working is on the rise, it is still an evolving process. Employers should consider what measures they should take in order to ensure employees working remotely will not bring grievances or claims against them. They need to manage the risks associated with flexible working arrangements.
They should ensure that remote-working employees have sufficient access to normal working systems and resources, to minimalise any feelings of isolation.
At the same time, employers need to be aware of security issues for remote workers, and be up to speed on the right security settings and passwords.
Employers should also make sure that remote-working employees have the right resources to do the job, including reliable hardware, software and other equipment.
Similarly, from a health and safety perspective, they need to reassure themselves that remote workers have the right equipment and furniture.
Insurance can be an issue. Is the employee covered by the business’s insurance, or do they need to take out a specific policy of their own?
Communication is vital for all concerned. And employers need to focus on both motivation and supervision while also remaining aware that those working part-time are protected from being treated differently or less favourably than full-time employees.
For some, remote working is going to be a new frontier to cross. And it might be wise to introduce it on a trial basis, to ensure that it will be the right fit for a particular business.