There are many benefits for employers and employees to embrace this particular form of flexible working. The main benefit is the psychological contract an employee has with their employer is improved. At HR Rockstars we all work remotely from home and we manage our Work Life Balance ourselves. The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) carried out an employee survey and found that workers on flexible contracts tend to be more emotionally engaged, more satisfied with their work, more likely to speak positively about their organisation and less likely to quit. We’ve seen potential talent discouraged from joining organisations on the basis they don’t offer working from home opportunities. We understand why. We all know life is uncertain and situations change. We move to different parts of the country or even the World and it’s not always the job that leads us there. We may fall in love, we may be drawn to different locations for the purpose of getting our children into preferred schools, and we may have sudden or planned caring responsibilities. Having the opportunity to continue to develop and grow within an organisation and have the flexibility of working from home to enjoy what we define ‘life’ to be when we talk about ‘Work Life Balance’ is a the diamond employee benefit.
At HR Rockstars we have made working from home work. It’s not for everyone but you soon realise if you have the discipline to work at home successfully early on. We would like to share the ways in which we make it work.
How to make working from home, work
Go “to work”
Our HR Rockstars all work from home but they all go to work in the morning- (they go sit at their desks at home). We have a clear space to work from, we have our own desks (not the kitchen table) and for us this is important, as our frame of mind is that we are at work. Our advice is to create a space that is for work only. It’s important that it is yours and you can leave work out on your desk and go back to it in the morning. If you can have a separate office great, or even better, a garden office where you literally have to leave the house to go to work. Our HR Rockstars have branded note pads, desk tops, and we have desk treats at various points in the year (NEOM candles are our most recent treat). This makes us feel more connected and part of the team and more part of HR Rockstars.
Get dressed for work
What we wear has an impact on how we feel. We have no dress code when working from home; however, we do all choose to dress for work. It puts us in the right frame of mind and we are more productive. We have daily hangouts with our colleagues and clients so it’s important that we are dressed appropriately (at least from the waist up!)
Have a structured day
Plan your week in advance and structure your work around specific goals. We all know exactly what we are working towards, we tell each other and we assign tasks and deadlines to each other. We are completely transparent with our diaries and are able to share the load when things get tough. Having structure to our day is really important especially when working from home as, other household responsibilities creep in. We all start work at 9am but we are all free to take time out too. We walk our dogs, do the shopping, pick up dry cleaning or do anything else that will help us enjoy the weekends more with our friends and families. We do tend to work later in the day but it is our choice to do so and we structure our days around our tasks.
Forget the 9-5!
There is a fear amongst employers that employees working from home tend to skive because they can’t be seen. This can happen of course, but it can also happen in the office environment too. In fact, it happens a lot. Just because someone comes to work at 7:30am and leaves at 6:30pm doesn’t necessarily mean they are working hard, in fact one could question their lack of time management and time spent on Facebook! We assess on work performance not number of hours spent at our desks. We see huge value in being able to spend time in the sun on the rare occasion it comes out in England as long as we can stay on top of our targets. The team manage their time themselves and there is appreciation for this.
Communicate – a lot!
Communication is key, have regular hangouts and communicate with your team. The remote worker is at greater risk of feeling isolated and lonely- be aware of this and get to know your team on a personal level. Arrange regular face-to-face meetings when you can. Be a great manager and invest time in to showing you really care.
We all check in and hangout in the morning and check out if we need to leave our desks. We have our work phones on us throughout the day so if we are walking the dog, doing or doing the weekly shop we can still take a call.
Make sure everyone is included.
For those employees working from home it is important that they do not miss out on important meetings and discussions. Schedule your team meetings around them. Use technology so that they can be present in those meetings if they are not able to attend in person. We use Skype, Google hangout and Facetime for 121 meetings.
Use productivity apps
We love Teamworks (a project management tool and communication tool) and some of us use specific Pomodoro Timers so we work in bursts of 25 minutes with a 5 minute break so our attention is focussed on the task at hand, it doesn’t work for everyone but give it a try! I can be easily distracted and I find I’ve wasted 45 minutes window-shopping on line. So, when I need to write a lengthy report or investigation outcome, I use “WriteRoom” which lives up to it’s promise of “distraction free writing” by paring my screen down to one function: writing.
Having trust and faith in your employees is really important aspect of this flexible working arrangement. However, you need to start with complete trust. Set out your expectations especially when it comes to communication and reporting of tasks and use the tools out there to support you with this. The majority of employees want to do a good job and feel appreciated. Encouraging your team to take control of their work life balance is empowering and they will do more than is expected if they feel appreciated.