Home officeAccording to the Office of National Statistics, 4.2 million Brits work from home. That’s 13.9% of the total UK working population and a half a million increase since 2007. This means that, as a manager, you’re more likely than ever to be managing a geographically dispersed team. This brings a whole new set of challenges and considerations. Here are my top tips for managing your home workers.

  1. Do the paperwork
Before you can allow your staff to work from home you need to make sure all the relevant paperwork has been completed. Health and safety requirements still apply to home workers, and it’s your job as their manager to ensure these are being met. Another key consideration is insurance; most people’s home insurance doesn’t cover working from home. You’ll need to include them on the business insurance and provide accurate details, such as their address, to make sure that you comply with your policy.
  1. Provide the tools
Home workers need a different range of technological solutions to enable them to do their job. It’s worth the investment, as research shows that home workers can be up to 39% more productive when enabled with video conferencing. Cloud-based solutions can be a great way of streamlining business processes. Consider investing in a holistic cloud solution, such as UCaaS. Then your homeworkers and office based employees will get the same experience and be able to use a range of communications tools to collaborate effectively.
  1. Treat them equally
Many home workers worry that a lack of ‘face-time’ will affect their career progression. They can feel out-of-the-loop when it comes to new opportunities. Managers can combat this by ensuring that team meetings and regular catch ups are held over video. Never underestimate the value of eye contact. The biggest thing remote workers miss out on is ‘face-to-face’ time but modern technology can correct this. It’s also important to remember to invite home workers to important events such as team-building exercises and the Christmas party, so they feel part of the wider team.
  1. Make training accessible
In a digital age, training resources should be available online so that employees can access them anywhere, anytime. This should include a portal where home workers can access video recordings of training sessions delivered on-site, to support written materials and bring them to life. This way you’ll get better ROI for any training created or purchased. Access to training is also key in reinforcing employees’ belief that their career progression won’t be negatively impacted by working from home. You can also encourage your home workers to share their learnings with each other through an internal social network.
  1. Monitor work-life balance
Home workers are more likely to overwork than underwork. This can be due to the fact that they suddenly feel their days are much shorter without the time spent on a regular commute. As their manager, you’ll need to keep an eye on their hours and output and make the time to help them develop a reasonable work-life balance to avoid burn-out. This will make sure your team is happy and productive and improve staff retention rates.

The shift to regular home working is already happening, so it’s vital that managers are prepared for it. A combination of technology, process and attention to detail will make sure that your home workers are as productive, if not more, than their office-based counterparts.

By Marco Landi, President EMEA at Polycom