The work/life balance is something we’ve all heard of (and maybe even aspire to) but what is your business doing to help your employees achieve that balance? With the ever changing world of technology, employees are often not leaving work when they leave the office, but are instead taking it home with them via their emails pinging through on their smart phones and laptops. Whilst employers and some employees may see this as a great way to keep on top of work issues even out of hours, it could be having a very detrimental effect on employees’ wellbeing. In fact, one third (32%) of UK workers say that remote access means they cannot switch off in their personal time.
The use of remote working can be hugely beneficial for a large number of organisations, enabling employees to work more flexibly, helping them to feel more empowered, and can even lower absenteeism – for example where employees may not be able to get into work due to bad weather or childcare problems, they can simply work from home meaning that neither employer or employee lose out on a days work.
There may be situations where employees choose to abuse flexible working arrangements such as remote working, but it shouldn’t be assumed that all employees will as it could actually bring huge benefits to your organisation.
So how can organisations strike a balance between the positive and negative effects of remote working? A clear policy is a good starting point. This should include details of the remote working arrangements, when they are in force and when they are not, and what the systems are for reporting to work when employees are not physically attending the workplace. The policy should also stress the importance of health and safety, which includes not only the environment that remote working takes place but also the length of time employees work for without rest breaks. It’s a good idea to specify that employees should turn off their work phones or emails after a certain time of the day to make sure they are getting the time to ‘switch off’ and don’t feel pressured to carry on working late at night, thus affecting their productivity the day after. Where employees do work longer hours to finish an important project or deal with something out of normal hours, consider allowing them to claim that time back the following day to avoid over worked and stressed workers.
Another area to consider is data protection – making sure that employees know their responsibilities in keeping any Company data secure whilst remote working, whether this is through correct IT security on their laptops or through locked filing cabinets at home.
All in all, remote working can really enhance your business and actually a lot of employees see flexible working as a huge workplace perk so it’s definitely something to think about when it comes to recruiting and retaining the right people. The key considerations will be to make sure it is managed correctly and doesn’t lead to exhausted staff working too much or more laid back staff working too little!
Written by Emma Fay-Touhey, Director of HR Dept Wilmslow. For further information about the benefits of flexible working practices or any other HR issues in your business, get in touch.