The Coronavirus crisis has seen many of us working from home for a while now, and for many businesses the first couple of weeks of this enforced arrangement were about making sure everybody had access to company resources and the right IT in place. However, as we now settle into a rhythm, it’s important that we remember that as our home is now a workplace, robust HR principles must still be applied.

So what should you do be doing as a manager now to ensure your business doesn’t run in to problems down the line? Our team members suggest you consider the following:

Make sure policies and procedure are in place

For some members of your team, this may be the first time they have had to work remotely for an extended period of time. We recommend having a homeworking policy that clearly highlights your responsibilities as their employer and your expectations of them.  The policy should be simple to understand and clearly communicated.

TIP: It’s good practice to ask staff to complete a homeworker’s self-assessment which will help identify any issues they might have and highlight how to report any concerns they have.

Ask for their feedback

Although you might be able to anticipate the needs of your team, it is also helpful to ask them for feedback. Ask them for their thoughts, questions and any concerns they may feel they could benefit from a new collaboration platform or frequent video calls. Some employees may want further remote training.

TIP: It doesn’t have to be over email either, use an employee survey or a virtual focus group, this can enable you to find out what they need to become more productive and engaged.

Don’t forget about health & wellbeing

Even though the workplace is now at home, you still have a responsibility to protect the health and wellbeing of your employees. Support them in working as flexibly as possible and regularly check that they are not working too many hours. Don’t let them feel as if they are obliged to be checking emails or work platforms at all hours of the day. TIP: Encourage them to take regular breaks – a lunch time walk or sit in the garden with a cup of tea will help this.

Check in with your team regularly

If you’re not already, holding regular ‘meetings’ are vital for keeping the team spirit up and to ensure work keeps happening! Scheduling a once a day or weekly meeting, even if it’s just for a quick team catch up makes a big difference in helping your staff cope with the change. When your team is used to working in an office, they are probably missing the day-to-day social interaction that comes with it. TIP: Setting up a team WhatsApp group or chat on an instant messenger platform can be a place where people share personal updates or quick questions, they would normally direct to each other in the office.

Trust your employees

Most employees will not see this as a holiday period, so avoid a micro-managed approach with them as it could have a damaging impact on morale and engagement. Continue to trust staff as you would normally and concentrate on being around to support and advise when needed. Making sure employees understand the guidance you’ve given them and expectations of completing tasks is important, but don’t place too much value on the number of hours and minutes a day your team spends working. TIP: Focus on achievement rather than working hours to monitor performance.

Make security a priority

Employees working from home may be handling sensitive and confidential information. It’s vital that they have been issued with a policy which includes confidentiality and how information should be stored in your IT system. Workers should understand it is their responsibility for ensuring the security of all information they handle on behalf of their employer, particularly if they are using their own devices to access company networks.

TIP: Remember, change is really hard for most of us, so managers should allow their team members time to adjust. If you feel as though there are delicate conversations to be had, such as addressing poor performance, this should be done over telephone or video call. With new developments happening every day, managers will face challenges in the weeks ahead but with support and positive advice employees are likely to feel more at ease.

If you have any HR concerns or questions around Covid-19, feel free to contact us for a no-obligation chat. We are also running a series of FREE webinars to help managers and employers during this time. You can find more details of this, which includes our upcoming ‘Managing a Remote Workforce’ webinar here.