Many of our friends in public relations and corporate comms are advocating working from home as the world goes through the Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak.
Of course this makes sense and is long overdue. Technology to enable successful home working has been available since the mid 1990s and while there are some notable exceptions, many UK businesses have been slow to adopt these changes.
Now, with more accessible technology and with the current risk to public health and lockdown in countries such as Italy, the message is getting through and many firms are coming to realise there’s really no excuse for not exploring it.
With any change though, care must be taken when home working policies are implemented. Staff will need good communication and support and here are 3 things we suggest you keep in mind, if you are enabling staff to work from home.
1 Home is not a happy, safe place for everyone.
‘Working from home’ might fill some of your staff with dread. They may not have the space, they may have issues in their lives where the work and office environment gives them structure they need. The office might be their sanctuary. Home might be a dangerous, unhappy place.
2 Many employees, including many managers, do not know HOW to work from home.
It’s still regarded by far too many people as a bit of a skive, not really work. Home working gets the best results when it’s accompanied by a change in leadership style and company culture. You can’t replicate the office environment and the old style methods of working when staff are remote. It’s not just the physical office that some people don’t like, it’s what it represents, how it operates, the behaviours that go with it. Be careful that home working doesn’t simple mean replacing one toxic, dysfunctional corporate culture with another. It has to make things better and should lead to the team working smarter. That won’t happen without a concerted effort and careful management.
3 If you are able to have your business operating properly from home, how can you possibly maintain your current pricing structure?
If your office is not essential, or you’re on a 4 day working week, or staff just use their own devices – if you’re THAT smart and agile, when are you going to start giving customers significant discounts? Just be careful how loudly you shout about it.