The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) describes homeworking as, “a type of flexible working which depends on the agreement between an employer and employee”.
In this article, we are going to cover what home working is, the benefits for employers and employees, and the importance of completing a home working risk assessment.
If you need immediate advice get in touch with one of Croner's experts at 0808 145 3385.
What is home working?
Homeworking involves working from home on a full or part-time basis depending on your agreement with the employee. The role of a home worker involves working away from your business premises and without direct supervision.
There are many factors that can influence your willingness to support or consider a working-from-home policy.
Depending on the role, you can consider employees working from home. It might increase productivity due to no commute time and flexible working as well as save on some of the costs of maintaining an office.
Or it may assist if you are trying to expand your presence in other geographical locations.
Homeworking and health & safety
Not only does it help with keeping remote workers safe, but it also prevents and controls potential risks to your employees.
Although your employees might be working from the comfort of their home, you as an employer still have the same duty of care for them as you do for your office-based employees.
It is your responsibility to carry out a risk assessment for home workers' health and safety before the role or assignment commences.
The risk assessment includes checking;
- The workstation.
- Data security.
- Relevant insurance.
- Stress and poor mental health
- Portable electrical appliances
- And anything else required for the employee to work safely and effectively.
The aim of the risk assessment is to highlight areas of concern in relation to health & safety while working from home, as well as to help you decide on the right level of supervision required for an employee’s mental health & welfare.
It is your responsibility to provide any equipment needed for the employee to effectively carry out and manage their responsibilities. The employee is responsible for resolving any home-related issues highlighted in the assessment.
Health & safety requirements working from home
If you have more than five employees, you have a legal requirement to assess potential risks to their work environment before employment begins and record any significant findings. You must:
- Conduct risk assessments at the start of the employment or contract and when there has been a significant change to the home and review at least annually where there is no change. This should include a display screen equipment (DSE) assessment.
- Provide adequate information, Instruction, training and supervision on health and safety matters.
- Involve homeworkers when considering potential risks and discuss how best to control them.
- Take appropriate steps to remove risks around the home wherever possible.
Like everything else, there are pros and cons of establishing a working-from-home policy. Here are some of the pros and cons:
Pros for employers
Utilising home working can have significant benefits for employers, from reducing the business's overheads to improving the company's reputation and retention.
There are a lot of associated costs involved with effectively running an office.
- Utility bills.
- Business rates.
- Commercial insurance.
- Relevant compliance inspections for gas appliances.
- Fixed wiring inspections.
- Legionella water testing.
- Renting commercial office space.
These are just a couple of the things that you would immediately start saving money on when an employee starts working from home.
However, there are a number of other associated costs that you might not have considered and the initial calculation would be much higher considering premises maintenance and upkeep, asbestos surveys and fire compliance.
You should also remember that there might be some initial costs incurred as employees working from home might require additional equipment and training to be able to carry out tasks effectively.
Cast a wide recruiting net
When considering hiring an employee to work from home, you can cast a wider net on candidates from a variety of geographic locations.
Most potential employees now check out company reviews from previous employees before applying for a job or accepting an offer.
Being a flexible employer can also contribute to attracting potential employees as well as retaining current employees.
Cons for employers
There are some downsides to having remote working employees, these can ultimately change how you manage your business.
Managing remote working
Managers might consider it more of a challenge to manage and monitor remote workers than they would manage office workers.
Before considering remote workers, for example, you need to be able to know that you can trust them to carry out tasks efficiently and with minimal supervision.
You also need to worry about security concerns with employees working from home, especially if your business handles personal and private information.
As the new GDPR laws went into effect earlier this year, it wouldn’t hurt to invest in training employees about the importance of keeping company and client information safe.
Businesses found to be in breach of the new GDPR laws can be liable to a fine of up to 4% of your annual profit.
Another concern for you is the possibility of poor communication or miscommunication between staff working with other employees and even clients.
The good news is, with all the communication platforms now available to us (such as email, phone, Skype, Slack etc.) it has become much harder for employees to excuse poor communication.
Pros for employees
Having employees working remotely will have significant positives for your employees, we've highlighted some of them below.
A happy employee is a more productive employee. Although employees have to work the required hours agreed upon by all parties involved.
They do have the option of hybrid working less or deciding how they are going to spend that time to complete tasks and meet deadlines.
Good riddance to commuting
According to Inside magazine, the average employee spends nearly 200 hours commuting to and from work every year.
Taking the worry out of work life and commuting can result in higher productivity from an employee. Not to mention the costs they could save on not commuting.
Having a flexible working pattern can help your employees improve their mental health and work-life balance.
Cons for employees
As with employers, there are disadvantages of having home workers, ensure you consider these before implementing home working into your business.
Limited group input
Homeworking means an employee will not be able to get as much input on projects from other employees in the office.
However, the popularity of some of the platforms mentioned above makes communication between employees easier.
A recurring workplace concern for homeworkers is the number of distractions available to them.
With online monitoring tools like Jira and Trello, you can keep an eye on tasks as your employee completes them. This helps you stay on top of employee productivity.
Working from home can cause stress and difficulty in development and training for employees. Employees will learn from their colleagues and co-works.
The office is a natural environment to impart knowledge, share information and up-skill. However, with Skype and video conferencing keeping in touch is much easier than ever before.
As of 2018, there is no reason why remote working should fall out of sync with the rest of your team.
In need of home working guidance?
When it comes to home working there are various aspects that should be taken into consideration. If you need support or advice on conducting risk assessments, get in touch with one of our experts.
Croner has a team of award-winning HR consultants who are specialists in their field. We've been helping businesses for over 80 years and our advice line is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Why not speak to a Croner expert on 0808 145 3385.
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