Working From Home

by Barbara Buffton

Common questions

  1. How can I persuade my boss that I’d get more done if I worked from home?
  2. We have just been told that the company is going to introduce a work-from-home policy. How will this affect me?
  3. One of my direct reports wants to work more from home. How will I know that they will actually work?
  4. I’ve been asked to draw up a work-from-home policy. What needs to go in it?
  5. I have the opportunity to work from home, but I’m worried I’ll feel isolated and will miss my workmates.
  6. What can I expect the company to provide in terms of equipment for me to work at home?
  7. I’m worried about security issues at home. What if I lose all my data?
  8. I suspect a member of staff only wants to work from home so that they can save on childcare costs. What can I do about it?
  9. When the sun shines, I want to be in my garden rather than at my desk. When the children come home from school, I want to be with them. How can I stay motivated to work when there’s no boss around to stop me taking time off?

 

1. How can I persuade my boss that I’d get more done if I worked from home?

Research has shown that one of the many benefits of home-working is increased productivity. But your boss needs to be convinced that this will be true in your case. Why not have a trial period first? Sit down with your boss and discuss all the relevant issues, such as:

  • Their expectations in terms of targets
  • Reporting and monitoring procedures
  • Core hours of contact.

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2. We have just been told that the company is going to introduce a work-from-home policy. How will this affect me?

If you were considered eligible for home-working, it could mean more flexibility in your working life. Depending on what your company’s policy states, you could arrange to work from home:

  • On a full-time or part-time basis
  • On a regular basis
  • Every now and again when you have something to do that needs peace and quiet away from the office.

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3. One of my direct reports wants to work from home. How will I know that they will actually work?

You don’t. But you can agree the following points with them in advance. After that, home-working is about trust...

  • Reporting and monitoring procedures
  • The targets to be met
  • The relevant milestones or deadlines
  • Times to be in contact or available by phone.

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4. I’ve been asked to draw up a work-from-home policy. What needs to go in it?

What such a policy includes will depend on the size and scope of the organisation. However, in general, it is best to consider the following points:

  • What does the manager need to know?
  • What does the employee need to know?
  • What’s important to the organisation?

Here’s an example of what such a policy could include:

  • A manager’s checklist, including risk assessment of the potential home worker
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Monitoring procedures, including sickness, hours available for contact, targets, reviews, and so on
  • Training and development
  • Attendance at meetings
  • Communication procedures
  • Equipment and furniture
  • Security and data protection
  • Health and safety.

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5. I have the opportunity to work from home, but I’m worried I’ll feel isolated and will miss my workmates.

Some people welcome the peace and quiet of being away from the office as it means they can concentrate on work. Others aren’t suited to home-working because they prefer to work in a team with other people.

So first of all you have to decide whether you have the personality to cope with home-working. If you think you do, but are just concerned about the occasional lack of personal contact, then there are various things you can do to overcome this.

  • Ensure you are in regular phone/email contact with your work colleagues.
  • Attend team meetings.
  • Set up a support network with other home workers.

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6. What can I expect the company to provide in terms of equipment for me at home?

This depends on your company’s work-from-home policy, but in general the company should provide whatever you need to do the work, such as:

  • Computer equipment
  • Workstation
  • A mobile phone or link to the company telephone network.

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7. I’m worried about security issues at home – what if I lose all my data?

Your company should have policy guidelines and procedures about security of data when working at home. However, typically you will need to:

  • Take all reasonable care and precautions
  • Back up your data regularly
  • Report any technical faults immediately
  • Use passwords to protect data.

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8. I suspect a member of staff wants to work from home so they can save on childcare costs. What can I do about it?

It is important to meet with the employee to raise any concerns so that you can resolve any issues. Ensure they are being realistic about how much work they can accomplish if they are also trying to juggle childcare or any other domestic arrangements.

Agreeing objectives and deadlines, as well as setting up monitoring and review procedures, will help address any potential problems.

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9. When the sun shines, I want to be in the garden. When the children come home, I want to be with them. How can I stay motivated to work when there’s no boss around to stop me taking time off?

Some people simply have the self-discipline to ignore distractions and to stay focused on what they are doing. Others need help! If you are one of the latter, then why not take advantage of the flexibility of working from home? You could work in the garden when the sun shines – set up your workstation there and have your mobile close to hand.

If you want to be with your children when they come home, then do so! But work out how you can make up the necessary hours elsewhere. Can you work before they get up in the morning or after they have gone to bed? That’s the beauty of flexible working...

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