When Managing Remote Workers please remember – Not everybody lives in the same house as you!

Covid restrictions and various lockdowns around the world have forced us to ask employees and team members to stay at home, work from home and dial in.

There is a strong argument for believing that ‘remote working’ (working from home) would have become commonplace even without the pandemic. Asking employees to work from home does have its attractions to employers. It lessens the need for expensive office space, parking, security, canteens, desks, computers, and other associated costs. Technological advances have also enabled employees to work from home and maintain productivity.

We know it is not a panacea. There are downsides and many of us look forward to the days when we can make the choice to work from the home or work in the office.

However, whilst the necessity is upon us, it is important for managers to be sympathetic to those home workers and the difficulties they face. We are used to seeing politicians, celebrities and managers conducting Zoom calls in front of bookcases and from purpose-designed office spaces in their homes. This is not the case for everybody.

Many younger employees share houses with friends. The internet signal may not be as strong throughout the house and it is not uncommon to find several housemates working around the dining room table. Parents are having to juggle ensuring internet access for their children to attend online school lessons and their own internet requirements for work.

I was delivering an internet training session and one of the participants whispered his responses to any questions. I asked him why he was whispering. He told me his brother was asleep in the bed behind him. They shared a room and his brother had been working nights.

Employers need to be sympathetic to these unforeseen challenges. When our employees took the jobs none of us anticipated the pandemic. We need to make allowances. Employers can do much to help.

• Have you ensured each team member has a laptop with a working camera?

• Can the company help with access to and payment for reliable broadband?

• Have you issued your teams with headsets with microphones? This ensures they can listen and cut out extraneous background noise.

• Have you spoken with each team member to agree when family obligations (e.g school work) will need to take priority over work?

• What alternative arrangements can either party make to ensure both work and family needs are met?

It is not enough to leave the responsibility fully on the shoulders of the employee to make this work. Open communication between the manager and the team member will pay huge dividends in the long term.

Browse our full range of programmes presented by Geoff Marsh

Published on Jan 29, 2021 by Geoff Marsh