Sue Hazelton, Hertfordshire Growth Hub
The Covid-19 Pandemic changed working life for so many, with staff being asked to work at home if their job allows. As a result, many organisations are considering a mix of workplace and home working going forward. Although working at home can have many benefits for some, such as avoiding stressful commuting and travelling time, being able to better balance work and family responsibilities, and more flexible working times etc., there are also many challenges, including those listed below:
· Jobs changing from what people thought they had signed up to
· Not having a suitable ergonomic working space or technology
· Boundaries being blurred between work and home and difficulty balancing the two
· Effects on the whole family, particularly if juggling family life with caring or home-schooling responsibilities
· Not being able to tap into the usual work community and a feeling of isolation, particularly if living alone
· Presenteeism (being at work in body but not in mind)
· And many more!
Managers will have the same challenges as their employees and volunteers but with the added responsibility of having a duty of care for their staff. From a health and wellbeing perspective It can be particularly challenging leading and managing remote teams as it is more difficult to notice changes in people’s body language, behaviour or mood, which might indicate that they need some extra support.
It is important for managers to keep the lines of communication open in discussing wellbeing issues and listening with an empathetic ear. Staff will appreciate managers talking about their own personal positives and negatives around working at home. Managers should also lead by example, such as taking breaks from the computer screen, setting boundaries on working hours to get more of a work / life balance, not checking and responding to emails 24/7 etc.
Many managers may not feel confident in starting these conversations but there are resources that can help with this new way of working. MHFA England have produced an appropriately entitled booklet, Line Managers’ Resource available here to help. For more guidance, the CIPD have produced a useful set of ‘Top Ten Tips’ resources. One of them focuses on remote working, with another covering top ten tips for managing remote teams. These can be accessed from the CIPD website here.
'CIPD - Championing better work and working lives' cipd.co.uk