WITH remote working the big winner of the pandemic – how ‘flexible friendly’ are employers when it comes to health, safety and wellbeing of their home-based staff?
While many business have benefitted from their employers working from home in areas like increased productivity and less sick leave; what makes them stand out from the rest as a newly-recognised ‘working from home employer’?
Nel Woolcott, Recruitment Partner at Peterborough-based Anne Corder Recruitment said: “It has been encouraging to see that most companies and their teams have adapted remarkably well to flexible working over the past year.”
“In the main, employers have changed their attitudes to remote working, with evidence that home-based staff can, and do, function well. However, it is crucial that employers do not become complacent when it comes to the health, safety and general wellbeing of their staff.”
“Keeping people safe at home is a priority, and this is where the importance of a risk assessment comes in; looking at a staff member’s working conditions; the height of their desk, the type of chair they are sitting and their general surroundings for example.”
“In the ‘office’, this would have been easy to do – but months of working from home could have resulted in a lapse of these checks. As a recruitment firm, we know how important this is, and conduct our own risk assessments on all our placements.”
“Having clear guidelines about lunch breaks, start and finish times are also key to giving staff structure to their day.”
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that as of October 2020, almost a quarter of the UK workforce were working exclusively from home.
Flexible and remote working solutions can be seen as added value to an employer brand or proposition. There are rich streams of as yet untapped talent that have been restricted by ‘traditional’ working boundaries.
Nel added: “Just as employers can widen their search for candidates, job seekers can become more discerning about who they choose to work for – and are more likely to choose a company that actively embraces and supports all aspects of flexible working. Employers can stand out from competitors by offering attractive extras like a working from home allowance; a high level of virtual engagement and encouragement, displaying gestures of gratitude or appreciation, and supporting staff – who may find themselves in a solitary position – to find more creative / personally accountable ways of working.”
And bosses can go one step further, says Clare Eager of Peterborough-based PeopleHR: “I believe that over the past year, whilst employers have had to focus on keeping their business going, some of the considered ‘niceties’ have had to be put to one side. In situations of pressure, a directive leadership style can return to the fore and other styles of leadership can slide into the background along with some of their attributes, including active listening. This means mentally being beside the person, in their space and being empathetic with their thoughts and feelings, not trying to solve or placate or make them feel better. This can be an uncomfortable place for many managers who want their employees to ‘get things done’. However, the greater the quality of communication and connection between leader and employee, the greater the chance of positive productivity.”