What is remote working?
This is a topic that is important to many people, not least women, so we made it the subject for our summer event. Remote working can be working from home on a permanent and regular basis (telecommuting) or occasionally, (for instance when your children are sick; you’re waiting for a repair engineer for a broken boiler; you’re spending time with family in a different country). It can also include team members working in different office locations around the world.
What companies are supportive?
Let’s look at one of the top 100 work from home companies according to Forbes*:
“At Virgin, we believe flexible working is smart working. Through a number of flexible working initiatives – like working from home, unlimited leave, integrated technology, and wellbeing in the workplace – we treat our employees like the capable adults they are.” **
Other companies such as Xerox included lower commuting costs, a more comfortable working environment and better work/life balance. All helping to make employees happier, contributing to a reduction in stress and an increase in job satisfaction.
Our survey said …
Before the event we surveyed our network and got some interesting feedback:
- Line managers are less supportive of remote working than the company overall, often treating it as a reward for valued employees.
- Some managers did not allow working from home at all, even for employees with health issues caused by the office environment.
- There often weren’t tools in place for workers to do their jobs remotely.
And our panel said …
- Solve technological issues in advance.
- Plan your day, including breaks away from your desk.
- Stay in touch: use instant messaging software for quick questions, chat and comments, between individuals and for group chat.
- With different time zones and countries, find a quick way to check someone’s working hours and public holidays.
- Spend at least 20% of the conference calls talking about non-work topics. Let the team get to know each other as people, not just as workers.
- Put faces to names and voices, so have regular video conferences.
- Work with cloud-based technologies such a workflow management.
- Get a proper office chair and work in a separate space.
- Plan regular office visits for morale and team building.
- And last but not least: put a lock on the fridge!
What are your rights?
In the UK every employee has the statutory right to request flexible working after 26 weeks of employment. These must be decided upon within three months of receipt and employers must have a sound business reason for rejecting any request. Bear in mind that you can only make one request in any 12 month period.
“A poor balance between an employee’s work commitments and their other responsibilities can lead to stress, high absence and low productivity,” says conciliation service Acas. ***
“Employees who have a better work-life balance often have a greater sense of responsibility, ownership and control of their working life. If an employer helps an employee to balance their work and home life this can be rewarded by increased loyalty and commitment. They may also feel more able to focus on their work and to develop their career.”
Our last word
We learned a lot during the event and hopefully opened our eyes to the possibilities of requesting to work remotely or to looking more favourably at requests from our teams. Food for thought indeed. And remember:
“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
Madeleine K. Albright
* TOP 100 WORK AT HOME COMPANIES: https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2018/01/17/work-from-home-2018-the-top-100-companies-for-remote-jobs/#7a649d6e76f0