Working From Home: Creating A Flexible Workforce in Ireland

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Flexible working conditions are now a necessity for all companies, with the Covid-19 crisis forcing most Irish organisations to set up a  remote model of work. In this article, Andrea Manning provides an interesting infographic and useful information for both employers and employees about remote working.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE A FLEXIBLE WORKFORCE?

What does remote working mean?

Remote working can mean two things. One, that an employee is based in another city or country which qualifies him or her to be a remote worker. The second explanation is that an employee who comes in the office regularly can work from home every now and then, usually as a perk given by employers.

What is the difference between remote and work from home?

Does remote working mean working from home? Well, you may hear people use these terms interchangeably but for some businesses, it can mean two completely different things.

As mentioned previously, there are businesses that regularly employ workers from different locations such as virtual assistants. They would often refer to their offsite teams as remote teams — people who regularly work outside the office.

On the other hand, employers who give their workers the option to work from the comfort of their homes for a day on a weekly or monthly basis don’t necessarily refer to these workers as “remote workers.” They can be remotely working that day and the term “work from home” is more often used in these situations.

What are the laws or regulations about work from home?

In Ireland, there is nothing specific in general legislation that prohibits a person from working alone (or at home). However, Section 19 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires the employer to undertake a risk assessment, and so this shall determine whether or not an employee may work alone.

This broad legislation can be applied to the practice of providing flexible working conditions and acts as a good set of guidelines for employers to follow.

What are the responsibilities of employers in a flexible working environment?

Many employers will take their employees at their word that they have everything they need in their home to create a workstation, but sometimes their home internet mightn’t match the speed or bandwidth of the business broadband available in the office. This can create inefficiencies down the road.

Equipment can be tested and security precautions evaluated, leaving management to decide whether they need to agree to a bring your own device (BYOD) policy or whether the company should pay for equipment to be installed in the employees’ homes.

Also, because the home office is now an extension of the workplace, health and safety concerns can come into play. To avoid potential liability, management should ensure there are no physical health and safety risks. This could include making sure there are no problems with fumes from electrical equipment and adequate ventilation. Water hazards must also be secured.

For extreme cases when the government advises or commands private businesses to implement a work-from-home scheme, assessing the situation of each and every worker may be a handful. However, what business owners can do is to reassure their employees that they will be supportive in addressing their needs.

For example, if your employee needs some home office tools (an extra desk, an extra monitor, laptop accessory, etc.) or fast and reliable broadband suitable for work, then employers should be ready to shoulder the costs.

What are the expectations from employees?

The era of flexible working conditions requires a flexible staff. Employees might get to log on from their armchair, with their own coffee machine close by, but they are now expected to have a more diverse digital skill set than ever before. It’s a golden age for the ‘all-rounder’.

In 2017, 70% of businesses surveyed said that experience with analytics software is a plus for new hires. In the same survey, computer programming was also highly valued, with 60% of Irish SME managers expecting their non-IT staff to have some tech know-how.

Aside from having the necessary skills that equip employees for this situation, it is also a given that employees should submit their deliverables on time. Having a clear schedule or project management software can make this clear and fair for everyone.

Proper working hours should also be agreed upon by both parties. If employees working from home have to run errands or have other personal business to attend to, it would be to everyone’s benefit if these hours are blocked off in a calendar that’s visible to the team.

Full article can be found on Virgin Media’s blog: Working From Home: Creating A Flexible Workforce in Ireland

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