Working From Home

Working from home in the new “normal”

We’ve just been through an extraordinary time where almost overnight we were “forced” to work from home. For some who already had flexible working arrangements, this was fairly normal and not a big adjustment, but for others it was unusual and took a lot of adapting to.

But what if we found we liked working from home? We liked having a better work-life balance, not spending so much time commuting and we even felt that our work productivity increased.

How do employers now deal with employees who want to keep working from home?

In terms of the law, employees have a right to request a variation in their working arrangements and employers have a right to refuse a request.

If you didn’t have a Flexibility Policy before the lockdown, now is the time to develop one. Employees who have flexible working arrangements, the most common being working from home, report higher levels of job satisfaction and flexible work arrangements are considered the top work benefit by over 50% of employees, according to SEEK research.

We’re hearing these questions from employers at the moment:

  • How can we transition from current situation to some sort of new normal?
  • How do we work out a policy for staff who want to keep working from home?
  • If they want to keep working from home “sometimes” how do we decide which days?
  • How can we work as a team if some staff are in the office and some are at home?
  • Should we ask our staff or just decide and tell them what our policy is?
  • Do we have the right processes in place to keep working from home?
  • Should we pay for the additional equipment needed (e.g. screens/cameras/docking stations)? And on the flip side:
  • Can I ask people to keep working from home if they want to come in to the office?

It’s safe to say that while we are still in Level 2 we are still being encouraged to keep working from home if we can. This may or may not suit your business.

Your organisation’s Flexibility Policy will depend entirely on what suits your business. You made it work for the lockdown because you were forced to. Consider what worked well and what didn’t. Ask your staff what they liked and what they didn’t like.

Is there one day of the week that you’d prefer everyone was in the office, but on other days it’s not so important? Are there some roles that can’t really be carried out from home, but others which easily can without work being impacted?

Consulting with staff, instead of forcing a policy on them will benefit everyone in the long term.

Remember as well, as you work through the next iteration of “normal” that there will be people who don’t want to return to the office due to anxiety about Covid-19 and others who will be feeling vulnerable around their (or someone in their family’s) job security. There will be many different reasons why people are seeking flexibility, and this will impact on their reactions. Gathering insights from your team in an anonymous way can really help to get honest feedback from them.

If you need help with working towards your new normal, please get in touch.

Written by Kirsty Allott

Posted on 20 May, 2020

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