Remote working

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that remote working can be adopted successfully on a much larger scale than previously thought. Working remotely doesn’t have to be full-time arrangement, part-time remote working can be balanced with more standard days in a central workplace. Establishing a new ‘hybrid’ solution can provide long-term benefits to your company, your employees and your community.

This Remote Working Toolkit is a free resource for companies who want to establish a ‘new normal’ way of working, providing guidelines, downloads and inspiring case studies to help you shape the best remote working solution for your business.

What are some of the benefits?

This Toolkit includes:

  1. The difference between remote working and flexible working
  2. Checklist to prepare for and implement remote working
  3. Top tips for managing remote working
  4. Managing the wellbeing and resilience of your staff
  5. Duty of care and your legal responsibility

The difference between remote working and flexible working

“Remote working” and “flexible working are two terms on everyone’s lips. At the moment, they are being used almost interchangeably but they are two different concepts.

As businesses transition to find the best working model for their team and service, it’s important to understand the difference.

What is remote working?

Remote working, or working from home, is a work arrangement that allows employees to perform their usual job duties at an approved alternative location. Employees can work on a full or a part time basis from a remote worksite including their home, a shared workspace or an alternate work location, within guidelines set out by their employer.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working, often known as ‘flexitime’, is a work schedule arrangement in which employees continue to work a full day but with varied work hours outside the typical nine-to-five workday. Flexible arrangements are usually established with guidelines from the employer, including a set range of start and end times and, if required, core working hours when all staff must be working.

Flexible work schedules allow employees to balance their work and home commitments and to work the hours when they feel most productive. Many companies will have flexible working policies with staff contracts that outline the procedures for requesting and formalising a flexible working solution with an employee.

Toolkit to implement remote working

Below are the key steps you should take to implement it, along with tools and templates to help.

Designate someone to lead on your remote working plans

Implementing and managing your remote working arrangements is essential. In larger organisations this will often be overseen by an HR team, with input and guidance from IT and senior leadership, however, for smaller companies, identifying one person to lead and co-ordinate activity is advisable.

Survey your employees

It’s useful to find out how your staff are feeling and their levels of desire to engage in or continue with some form of remote working. It can also highlight if there are any ongoing challenges  that you might need to factor into your plans.

Download an example employee survey here 

Conduct an IT assessment

You need to ensure the necessary technology is in place to allow for continued remote working and your plans align with your company policies on data storage and security. Consider creating guidelines around remote computer access, availability of equipment, communications tools and virtual meeting programmes.

Download our IT toolkit for Start-ups and SMEs

Conduct a legal assessment

It’s important to understand the rights and responsibilities of both employer and employee when working remotely. Review your policies and contracts for:

  • Insurance
  • Data protection
  • Health and safety
Develop guidelines for your Remote Work Programme

Creating guidelines helps to clarify roles and responsibilities and establish parameters. Some businesses avoid introducing formal policies for remote working, preferring to keep the option more flexible than the contractual flexible working options.

Communicate with managers and employees

Put in time to present the new guidelines to your team and follow up by sending out the guidelines. Also have them available for future reference in a shared folder or intranet. Transparency is key to a successful programme. Provide the opportunity for staff to follow up with you on a 1-1 basis if they have any individual queries.

Deliver manager and employee training

Effectively managing remote workers is vital to the success of introducing this new way of working. Provide training for all your people to outline the technology tools, company policies and guidelines and expectations for working remotely. You might also need to support your managers and leaders with specific development on managing remote teams.

Manage the wellbeing and resilience of your staff

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees. Whilst this covers things like providing a safe working environment, it’s not just about creating a physically safe place to work. It’s important to also consider how to protect your employees’ mental health. 

Duty of care and your legal responsibility

Mental Health & Wellbeing Factsheet

14 Tips on working from home Factsheet

You can also find additional information in our Wellbeing section.

Evaluate how things are going

By evaluating the programme you’ve put into place, it’s more likely to succeed. The best way to gather feedback is by talking to your team, conducting focus groups and an annual staff and manager survey to determine the impact of introducing remote working. You could include questions about communication; technology; teamwork; productivity and morale.

Download an example employee survey here 

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