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Managing a move to home working – communication is key

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicate that the percentage of people working from home has gone from 9.2% in 2001 to 10.7% in 2012 which may not seem like a huge leap but it is indicative of a growing trend for people to be based from a home office.

This trend looks set to continue and it’s apparent that many businesses can make it work successfully.  For those who have been able to work, there has been one key factor that has the power to guarantee success or failure and that is the way in which the change has been communicated to those concerned.

Communication is essential at all stages of putting home working arrangements in place.  You must communicate with employees during the planning stages, during the implementation and consistently thereafter.

Employees are invariably going to be affected by any proposed homeworking and although the temptation is to think that it’s going to be well-received, that isn’t necessarily the case.  You cannot (and should not) assume that an employee is going to welcome the opportunity to work from home and they may have a variety of reasons for not wishing to do so.  Quite simply, some people may prefer the buzz of a busy office and for them, working from home could be the opposite of what they want.

Taking employees’ opinions into consideration can never be a bad thing when it comes to implementing a system which will fundamentally change the way in which they work (not to mention changing the terms and conditions of their employment with you).

Due consideration should be given to the ways in which you will communicate with staff once they are working from home.  That’s not just methods of communication but also the frequency with which you would get in touch, the content and information they need to receive and the ways in which they can communicate with you.  No one likes feeling isolated and out of the loop but home working arrangements could make employees even more vulnerable to such concerns.

Employers can choose to implement home working arrangements and can reap the benefits of doing so as long as they communicate properly with employees and ensure that the arrangements work well for everyone.  Otherwise, saving a little bit of money on desks and office space could end up being more expensive in wasted time, productivity and disgruntled employees.

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