Updated: Nov 3, 2021
If you are one of the many people who used to work from an office and have been told by your employer to work from home for the foreseeable future because of the Coronavirus, what are your rights and what can your employer expect from you?
The first thing to say is that we are in unprecedented times. This is a phrase that is used a lot at the moment and for many good reasons – the world is changing constantly and we (employees and employers) are adapting to the “new today”.
By saying that you can now work from home, this means that your employer has temporarily changed your place of work from your normal office to your home. Good practice would be that this is confirmed in writing to you either via an email or letter.
The rest of your contract of employment continues to be valid (the number of working hours, salary, job description, etc) and you are still bound by your company’s policies and procedures. Many employers do have a “Working from Home” policy and this should be shared with you now as it would apply to you during this temporary period. If you haven’t received it ask for it.
So, that all sounds simple enough. Instead of working in the office, you now do the same work between your normal hours but just at home. Straight forward – right?
Well yes, until you throw in the curve balls of closed schools, our community spirit of looking after those who are self-isolating and trying to ensure that we remain physically and mentally healthy.
The solution is straightforward – expectations need to be set on all sides on what is expected and what is reasonable. This is where a discussion needs to take place between you and your manager / employer. Being available in the way as you were in the office may not be realistic or practical at the moment.
Our advice based on good practice would be:
There is going to be an adjustment period for all – the technology may not always work, you may not have the hardcopy file you need as it was left in the office or you are sharing the kitchen table with the children doing their studies
Agree on key meetings or calls that you need to attend – this will allow you to manage your family commitments, your own wellbeing, etc around these
Focus on the deliverables / output of your job rather worrying about the number of hours worked
Accept that there needs to be flexibility on both sides on when work is completed - the standard “9-5” currently doesn’t exist anymore
Speak with your customers, suppliers and colleagues about your availability and also find out how / when they are working. You may need to flex your availability with them as well
Document how you are going to work and get this agreed with your manager / employer. Then share this with your colleagues, team etc.
Your employer has an obligation to ensure that you have a safe working environment when you are working at home. It is advisable that you undertake a DSE workstation check. If your employer doesn't have a checklist, then the HSE have one that can be used (https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ck1.pdf).. Even though this maybe a short term arrangement, we would recommend that this is done.
Accept that you will experience a time when one of your children or pets makes an entry onto a video call unexpectantly. Remember the BBC interview when the children come into the room (https://youtu.be/Mh4f9AYRCZY) ? It will happen!
Remember to smile and walk away from your work just as you would do in the office
Finally, as we all get used to a new way of working, our situations will change and we will continue to find the better ways to make this work for us – employees, employers and customers! We just need to keep speaking with each other and ensuring that expectations continue to be agreed.
At Lodge Court, we are passionate about people and you will get honest, practical advice and support - as much or as little help as you need to put our advice into practice.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as professional advice for your particular situation.