In our last three blogs (read them here, here, and here), we have already elaborated how home working has established itself as beneficial not only for employees who are working from home but also for employers who have encouraged it. While this method unquestionably increases productivity of the professionals and reduces overall cost of office space for the employer, how can an employer manage their home-based employees? Let us explore some key management techniques.
Trust is the first stepEstablishing trust between employers and employees is the first key step in ensuring successful homeworking. However, in many instances, it has been found that employers do not encourage homeworking as they cannot trust their employees working unmonitored. A recent example is of a company like Yahoo! asking its homeworking employees to relocate to the company facility. It is perplexing to see how modern generation companies can regress when it comes to people strategies.
As pointed out by Richard Branson, to work successfully with other people, employees and employers have to trust each other. A huge part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision. Managers who are used to regularly monitoring staff in office, must make big adjustments in their methods of working. It must be understood that just because one employee is working in office does not mean that he or she is more productive than a person who is working from home. Organisation wide corporate trainings for both employers and employees can help better understand the concept of homeworking and how it can be made successful.
Clear definition of role and responsibility
Every employee today is expected to be a multi-tasker with multiple responsibilities. However, this might prove to be difficult for home-based employees given the circumstances and the working environment at home. Therefore, it is always better for a homeworking professional to have a dedicated role and responsibility. This will also help the employer to measure performance of the employee and aid in their career development.
When it comes to performance measurement, there should not be any disparity between an office-based and a home-based employee. Both types of employees should be judged equally basis the same set of parameters. According to Acas, the UK government organisation devoted to preventing and resolving employment disputes, “Performance management of staff who work from home should be consistent with that of office staff, so it would be advisable to focus all assessment on work produced and whether objectives have been met.”
Management should ensure that there is regular contact with its homeworking employees. In the same way, homeworking employees should also ensure that they maintain regular connect with the office whether with their colleagues or managers. For managers, it is a great way to keep up with the employee’s progress, provide them with a sense of inclusion and participation, and make them feel valued. While daily connects might not be required, a weekly meeting on the phone or a video conferencing tool is the way to go. It is also recommended for homeworking employees to physically drop into office occasionally.
Using the right technology - From instant messaging, emailing, video conferencing to digital meeting solutions complemented by smart mobile devices, modern technology has enabled everyone to be connected all the time from anywhere. Homeworking professionals should utilise the vast array of available tools and technologies to be in regular touch with their colleagues and the office in general while working. It is the responsibility of the organisation and the management to ensure that the homeworking employee is provided with and has access to the right kind of tools like fully loaded laptops, mobile devices, and applications to be able to work almost in a virtual office like environment at home.
Providing opportunities for training and professional development – This is important for both the employee and the employer. Encourage your employees to join a trade association, take trainings, pursue higher education, and participate in conferences. A multi-skilled, well-educated, and well-networked employee is a great asset to any organisation. This is especially important for remote workers who do not get the opportunity to participate in office events, team brainstorming sessions and hence might feel isolated and excluded.