Home Working – What every HR /Business Leader should know!
Since my last blog, ‘How to engage your people during a pandemic’, I’ve been asked to develop a survey aimed at team members who are working from home, many for the first time.
I’ve had to consider their specific needs, and particularly the impact of this major change at such a challenging time.
Work aside, people have had to come to terms with a very new world as a result of the COVID-19. I’ve observed people at opposite ends of the spectrum – from fear and panic mode, to those who have embraced the isolation as a welcome change to the hustle and bustle of their chaotic daily lives.
When the advice was given to ‘work from home if you can,’ many employees breathed a sigh of relief that they could continue to work and earn a living without the risk of being near other people.
Far from the question of whether businesses ‘wanted’ their people to work from home, Leaders were now faced with the decision as to ‘how’ they could make home working do-able or be forced to make big decisions on closure or redundancies.
Across the world, employees are now set up with all the equipment and resources they need to do their jobs from home. Home offices have sprung from dining room tables – and kitchen worktops are scattered with papers and files.
So, what now? Well, given that the situation is not set to drastically change any time soon, we need to engage with our teams now. Before we can claim to know how to keep our homeworking teams engaged, it’s important to just stop and listen. Remember, while two individuals will never feel exactly the same, gaining some kind of collective view is surely a good idea to enable us to plan how best to support them.
In developing our survey, I have assessed what kinds of information businesses really need to know about their teams who are working from home. In doing so I’ve taken into account a number of factors which are very unique to home working in current times.
Depending upon individual circumstances, there are likely to be distractions at home which will impact an employee’s ability to focus. Under ‘normal’ circumstances home workers may be the only people in the house during their working hours. This allowed them the space to get their heads down and work at the task in hand (many finding home working a more productive environment). In today’s world, the picture can be quite different. Whether it be looking after a sick family member or attempting to work alongside home schooling, the ability to spin a number of plates is likely to take its toll.
Working alone is not for everyone. Some employees need colleagues around them to feel engaged in their work. Whether it’s to ask questions about a task or sharing general office gossip, some people need team interaction to feel connected. Losing this connection to the business can result in team members feeling very differently towards their jobs.
A change in environment can have a huge impact on a person’s confidence. Many employees have their own way of doing things on-site, understanding their business processes inside out. Take the physical structures away from them and they can be left feeling uncertain in their roles. Unfamiliar systems and new processes could make them feel like a new starter all over again: frustrated by their lack of ability to get the job done or afraid to ask questions.
Take the use of online meeting systems as a great example, if I had a £1 for every person I’ve heard say they don’t like Zooming, Teaming or Skyping over the last three weeks, I’d be rich!
Regardless of whether you’re loving or hating home working, the current pandemic will, at some point, have an effect on your emotional wellbeing. For employees, that could impact their ability to do their jobs. We need to seriously consider that home working itself may negatively alter a person’s view of whether they feel able to cope with life right now.
Not my thing!
For whatever reasons, some people will simply not like working from home, regardless of what you do to help. Whilst they may tolerate the situation on a temporary basis, it will never be for them. Accepting this and not trying to force people into a warm and fuzzy place will go a long way towards engaging with these people.
So my thing!
By contrast, it is also worth considering that a group of people may emerge who really love working from home! This is something to think about when the world goes back to normal – could you make this work on a longer-term basis? That decision is entirely down to you and not for me to comment on here…but could be the subject of a future blog perhaps – once I’ve had a chance to analyse the results of our survey! 😊
Thinking of running a home working survey for your team?
Click on the link below to download our free ‘DIY Guide to Home Working Surveys’ which will provide you with the secrets to a successful survey project along with details of which question categories we recommend you cover in your own Home working survey: