A good number of people love working from home. They don’t have to commute for hours going to work, they have more flexibility and a better work-life balance. Additionally, some feel more productive and efficient when working from home.
However, working from home has its own downs. The challenges that come with working from home can weigh your business down if not managed and dealt with.
Considering the current circumstances (Covid-19 Pandemic) and the new reinstated order of employers allowing employees to work from home, a good number of organizations are not prepared to work from home.
Companies don’t just wake up and start working from home. Working from home arrangements take some planning and preparation to start and continue smoothly.
Businesses that were running before the pandemic hit last year probably experienced working from home and have an idea of what to do and where to start.
On the other hand, new business owners will have to learn how to adapt their businesses and employees to working from home.
Employers should have measures in place and policies to help them manage these challenges. Workers on the other hand should regularly communicate issues with their employers as they arise.
Additionally, not all policies employers come up with work for all their employees. Thus, employees should regularly communicate any challenges they experience with policies put in place.
Challenges related to communication are the most common when working from home. Communication between employers and employees about arising issues and issues related to ongoing projects.
Majority find it easier to communicate with others when in a physical space such as an office. Walking to someone’s desk to consult about an issue is easy.
Ensure Regular communication
When working from home, physical face to face meetings are challenging. Thus, regular communication when a workforce is working from home takes more effort and intentionality.
As an employer, you need to come up with practices that will promote regular communication in your workforce. This could include choosing specific communication channels to communicate with your employees during this period.
Secondly, make sure there is a record of your employees’ contact details and make it available to all workers. The contact details could include their email addresses, phone numbers, and home addresses. Thus, you can easily reach your workers and your workers can reach their colleagues.
Importantly, as an employer, communicate with your employees regularly and keep them informed and updated. Keep them in the loop of what’s happening in the company. Schedule several virtual meetings to help you go back to the drawing board and assess where your business is. What’s working and what’s not working.
Embrace involving your employees in decision making processes during this period. Listen to their different ideas and their views on your business operations.
2.Employee management and abuse of working from home arrangements
It’s easier to manage your employees in a physical office set-up than in a working from home arrangement.
Most companies have been pushed to work from home and most employers would choose to have their employees work from the office. Having employees work from home comes with some level of trust.
However, not all employees will value this trust and some will end up abusing the arrangement one way or another.
Find alternative ways to ensure work is getting done
Without face to face management, finding alternative ways to manage your employees can be challenging. However, you need to find ways to ensure your workers are getting work done as they work from home.
First, you need to identify your business goals, and tasks to be done to achieve these goals. Secondly, find less strenuous ways to monitor overall and individual progress.
Working from home needs more teamwork and trust among all parties involved. From the employer to the employees and a great way to do this is to delegate shared responsibilities. Let your employees have team tasks aside from their individual work.
Shared responsibilities push employees to be more self disciplined. When working on a task as a team, employees know what’s expected of them and the output they need to achieve.
They will agree on when they will be available, who will do what and how they will keep in touch.
Policies – expected work standards
Also, come up with policies that guide your employees as they work. Policies that clearely outline expected work standards.
A great way to ensure smoother staff management is coming up with ways to manage performance. Know who is doing what and whether it’s being delivered. Importantly, let workers know who to contact incase of an emergency or any work related issue that needs to be addressed.
Working from home comes with more flexibility. However, in a company set up, there has to be some level of harmony among all workers and their working hours. All employees cannot work at their own free will when they feel like.
Recording employees’ working hours
Many employers give their workers the free will to choose their working time but have fixed working hours e.g 8 hours a day. Create a system that records how long your employees, when they sign in and when they sign out. You can use email or an online attendance system.
Have employees work at their convenience but still be contactable during normal working hours
Also, employers can communicate the times they would want to have their workers available for meeting purposes, project assessment, calls, etc. The most important of all is having employees work at their convenience but still be contactable during the company’s normal working hours.
4.Employees’ skill development
Working from home requires extra skills and your workers might need to develop these skills.
Communication is mainly virtual when working from home and your team needs to learn how to the different communication tools.
Online training and coaching
Other ICT skills are required for your workers to work efficienctly from home. As an employer, it’s important to consider equipping your team with these skills. You can do this through online training, remote coaching or using employees who have these skills to train those who don’t have.
5.Work life balance
One of the main advantages of working from home is the ability to achieve a work-life balance.
Employees no longer have long and stressful commute to work thus they have more time to work on their personal lives.
Under normal circumstances, away from the Covid-19 Pandemic, employees voluntarily choose to work from home. On the other hand, working from home to contain a pandemic is different. That makes working from home under the two circumstances different realities.
Blurred boundaries between work and personal life
For those with families, the reality is different and challenging under the current reality of Covid-19 when everyone is at home. Sometimes, the boundaries between work and personal life can be blurry.
This can bring a work life conflict instead of work life balance affecting one’s productivity, physical health and mental health too. On the other hand, those without families can find themselves working without a stop. This can be tedious and can lead to burn out.
Employers should encourage their employees to separate work and personal lives putting boundaries in their schedules. Encourage your employees to regularly take breaks as they work from home. Also, encourage your employees to speak up incase they are experiencing work-life conflict and provide mental support.