Keeping remote workers engaged through a period of permanent or temporary home working can be challenging but there are simple steps that can be taken by both employers and employees to overcome the challenges.

In this article, HR Team co-director, Martina McAuley, provides her expert advice on optimising performance while working from home.

Reasons identified by HR Team for lack of motivation or underperformance:

  • Lack of clarity on employer expectations.
  • Poor job design – non-flexible when moving to remote working.
  • Employees not receiving effective training or induction into the workplace.
  • Unsuitable reporting structure or lack of clarity surrounding reporting structure.
  • Ineffective communication or lack of communication.
  • Lack of rewards, recognition for a job well done or other motivations.
  • Insufficient feedback on performance.
  • Outside influences which may be hampering performance.

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How do we overcome these issues?

Ms McAuley states: “Home working was a rapid adjustment for many, which is significantly different to managing someone face to face. It’s extremely important to have regular interaction with employees and to be mindful that there is a significant difference between working from home and working at home.

As a starting point, all employees should understand that working from home is a temporary arrangement, it is important to put this in writing and follow up with verbal confirmation.” There are number of issues employers are being faced with regarding working from home office staff, such as:

  • A strain on the workforce.
  • Employee job security fears.
  • Ergonomic problems.
  • Eye strain – 40% of individuals have had an increase in eye strain.
  • Over 50% of employees have reported that their diet and exercise has deteriorated.
  • Mental health issues – it is very important to have a structure from working from
    home to avoid mental health issues arising in the workplace.

Employees at risk of isolation and burning out

Ms McAuley says: “Some employees are completely isolated due to a lack of communication, regular briefings and meetings. Taking away the social and support aspect of work and human interaction is gone.

“This comes back to the fact that one size does not fit all, some employees may have taken very well to working from home, whereas others have not. Each employee may have a different outlook on communication, which is why you must have a flexible management style when managing remote workers. It is vitally important, where possible, to have daily face to face interactions.

“On the other hand, we have employees that are burned out. They have too much communication with back to back video conferencing. Statistically, these employees are working an additional hour per day while there is no social interaction between meetings and they risk suffering a burn out.”

Motivating and Managing Home Workers

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10 methods to effectively manage home workers

1. Provide a home working policy including break times, clarify hours of work, provide necessary equipment and structured communications. This sets the basic foundation for working from home.

2. Clarify if telephone and internet costs will be reimbursed.

3. Provide security information in relation to data protection.

4. Ensure your health and safety obligations are adhered to.

5. Relevant systems and procedures should be applied – in terms of sickness and absence.

6. Once terms and conditions are agreed and signed off by the employee, ensure the employee is clear on the management and expectations of working from home.

7. Review your job descriptions to ensure they are relevant to each employee’s current circumstance.

8. Set specific and measurable targets and review these regularly. Ensure targets are communicated clearly and reviewed with the employees’ managers.

9. Track productivity systems by measuring how many clients are being responded to, how many projects have been achieved. Provide regular information – office-based employees could previously have asked a colleague for assistance, but this is now not the case for many.

10. Discuss progress and provide feedback to employees on a regular basis. Ensure there is regular communication, summarised progress, end of day reports, etc. The more structure the manager can bring to home working the more effective and satisfying home working will be.

To watch Ms McAuley’s webinar on homeworking and managing employee motivation and mental health, please click here.

Alternatively, if you would like to benefit from one-to-one expert advice, contact HR Team today: hello@hrteamgroup.com or call: +353 1 695 0749 (from Ireland) or +44 2871
271882 (from NI/UK).