Individual Sitting Down on Hardwood Floor Doing Homework With Paper Sprawled Out on the Floor

Working Families, the UK’s work-life balance charity, has released a guide for employers on managing homeworkers. This guidance comes as millions of people are being asked to work from home to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The guide shows managers how to get the best out of their remote staff, offering a step-by-step plan for training and development, communication, remote working team protocols, and setting objectives. 

Top tips include: 

Don’t overuse email: Email can be overused, and clogged inboxes can be a source of stress for any employee. The problem can be magnified for part-time workers, who may have to plough through two- or three-days’ worth of emails at a time. Guard against needless copying in, and have realistic expectations about response times.   

Communicate about availability: Agree specific times when remote workers can be contacted or are available for meetings. This not only helps colleagues know when they can connect, but helps remote workers take reasonable breaks away from their work without feeling guilty or fearful that they will be accused of shirking. Some remote workers are happy to be contacted on non-working days if arranged in advance and for specific occasions when their input may be needed.  


Set clear objectives: With tasks and expectations clearly defined, remote workers have the freedom to manage their time and workload within those objectives. Meanwhile, you can concentrate on objectives and outcomes, rather than being concerned about when or how your employees are working. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, have honest conversations about childcare responsibilities: Under ordinary circumstances, homeworkers should have childcare provisions in place. But during this unprecedented public health crisis, line managers should have sensible and understanding conversations with parents and carers of young children—particularly those working full-time—about what is and isn't possible for them to achieve. 

Jane van Zyl, Chief Executive of Working Families, said: 

“Since the COVID-19 virus emerged, we’ve seen an increasing number of employers adopt flexible working to mitigate the risks of spreading the illness.  We hope our guide will help employers recognise the far-reaching benefits of flexible working – including increased productivity and engagement from staff – and that they will continue to embed flexible working into their business long after the coronavirus has run its course.” 

Working Families fast-tracked the release of this guide as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be available as a free download for employers as long as social distancing measures are in place. The charity has also launched a series of flexible working toolkits for employers, which are available for purchase in their online shop

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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