For many of us, on the dark, damp January mornings, the attractions of avoiding the commute and working from home seem obvious. In a relatively rural and remote (from the main cities) area such as Lancaster and Morecambe district, working from home can be a great way for people to live in this fantastic area and maintain a serious career.
It doesn’t suit everyone or every kind of business/role but it is worth thinking about some of the advantages and disadvantages of home working.
The advantages first. It may improve employee retention, particularly those employees who have carer responsivities. It can lead to improved productivity due to fewer interruptions and reduced commuting time. Office/premises space can be expensive. It can lead to work/life balance benefits in reduced time wasted headed to and from work.
One of the main disadvantages is that it may be difficult to monitor and manage performance for staff to develop. It can put more pressure on those staff still working in the office/premises. There is usually a cost at the outset in training and equipment and there are information security issues which are likely to be increased by having different locations. There can also be issues for the employee feeling isolated and not part of a team.
Flexible Working Regulations mean that employers now have to seriously consider requests to work from home from all employees who have 26 weeks service. Failure to deal with a request properly is likely, at best, to lead to a disgruntled employee and, at worst, to a damaging dispute.
There is a lot to be said for trialling such arrangements. It makes sense to have a probationary period to see whether the arrangement works for everyone. Often, working part time in the office/premises and part-time at home seems to work well. It is worthwhile talking to other business owners and homeworkers at events such as those held by the Chamber to share experiences and learn from each other.
For any employment advice please contact David Park on 01524 846846.
David Park is a Director of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Partner of Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand.