To continue working from home or not to continue working from home?

THAT is the question. This debate is raging across numerous of our clients currently. Building blocks are in place; we have had to swiftly and appropriately adopt this as a ‘norm’ already and as a result there are changes in mindset about what the art of the possible is and we are starting to consider what we wish to do when this current pandemic fades.

Some business will naturally just slide back into the office, others will focus on a mixed solution utilising the plethora of serviced offices that can be hired hourly, daily or monthly as and when, but there will be some who never see the inside of an office again.

So as an employer what do we need to consider?

This great checklist comes from the CIPD and would be a useful guide for where to start

  • Remember you are under a duty to take care for the health, safety and welfare of homeworkers in the same way as for employees working in the office.
  • Ensure that the worker’s home environment is suitable for homeworking (for example in terms of the environment, the amount of space available and any equipment the worker will use) and as hazard free as is reasonably practicable.
  • Depending on the type of work involved, the homeworker may have to be trained in the handling of any equipment and materials that form part of the job.
  • If the work involves using a computer, provide the homeworker with written guidelines and procedures for the use of visual display equipment and require the homeworker to sign a copy of the guidelines, confirming that they have read, understood and agreed to them.
  • Think carefully about whether any furniture, tools and/or equipment (eg a computer) needed for the work should be provided by the employer or the homeworker.
  • If the equipment is provided and paid for by the employer, then they will be in a position to determine how it is used and set down rules or restrictions regarding its use.
  • Check your insurance policies (eg employers’ liability insurance) to make sure that the necessary cover is in place for employees who work wholly or partly at home.
  • Ask the homeworker to check their home and contents insurance policies and any mortgage/rental agreements to make sure they do not prohibit homeworking or invalidate cover in respect of the particular type of work to be performed at home.
  • If the homeworker’s job involves dealing with confidential or sensitive information, take appropriate steps to ensure that all working arrangements are secure and any documentation to be held in the home will not be subject to breaches of confidentiality.
  • If there are children in the home, seek to agree measures with the homeworker that will prevent them from accessing filing cabinets or the computer that the homeworker will be using.
  • If the homeworker is likely, in the course of his or her work, to obtain or use personal information about individuals, you should ensure they are trained fully in the requirements of GDPR and current Data Protection Act relevant to data security. Issuing, or re-issuing, your data protection policy is advisable.
  • Consider whether there should be any contractual provision preventing /limiting homeworkers from performing paid work for other employers.
  • Put in place arrangements for work to be delivered to and collected from the worker’s home. It should be clarified at the outset whether the employer or the homeworker is to be responsible for this.
  • It will be important to agree whether the homeworker should be contracted to work fixed hours or whether there can be flexibility as to how many hours he or she works and when those hours are worked. Often it is better to base the contract (and subsequent measurement of performance) on the amount of output the homeworker achieves.
  • In the event that there are no fixed hours, it may nevertheless be appropriate to agree with the homeworker that he/she will be available at set times (core hours) so that telephone or email contact can be made.
  • It is important to bear in mind that the Working Time Regulations 1998 apply to homeworkers.
  • The contracts of homeworkers should stipulate whether, and if so how often, they will be required to attend the employer’s premises for meetings or other purposes.

With these building blocks in place you can build a policy and guidelines for your staff to follow and make this as smooth a transition as possible. Need any help formulating this just ask us