Managing Home Workers
Management of homeworkers requires a style which is focussed on outputs rather than inputs. Therefore, employees and their managers require to focus on performance, including productivity and quality of the service rather than time and attendance.
This does not mean an abdication of management responsibility. There is an even greater requirement for individual and/or team meetings where performance targets and work objectives are agreed, monitored, reviewed and revised. In the periods between meetings and other means of communication, employees will have a greater degree of autonomy than would normally be the case for office based staff. As a result, trust between the manager and employee is paramount. Managers need to trust that employees are fulfilling their duties and responsibilities whilst ensuring support and back-up is provided in terms of workflow, systems, procedures, equipment, administration and team support.
Managing homeworkers relies on good communications and information systems appropriate to the team and its tasks. It also requires a greater awareness of team dynamics and the individuals’ ability to operate outside an office-based workplace.
The Fife Council performance management systems (i.e. Contribution Management) should be used as tools to ensure that employees and their manager agree objectives.
There are clear performance management guidelines within these systems for monitoring progress with regular contact and review sessions. Managers need to be aware of the need to coach employees to help them adjust to homeworking and increase their effectiveness as a result. Identifying and dealing with difficulties at an early stage is crucial as is ensuring that homeworkers have the same developmental and promotional opportunities as office-based workers.
Organisation and monitoring of work
It is particularly important that Homeworkers have a forward work plan or schedule. This will provide a framework for both manager and employee so that there will be a common understanding of what work will be undertaken and what work produced daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly (i.e. work outputs - quality and quantity).
If any kind of work monitoring system is required, it needs to be proportionate to the objective and introduced in accordance with the relevant legislation. For example, monitoring should be overt and not covert (i.e. not used without the knowledge of the employee).
The very nature of homeworking means that, from a management perspective, attendance and the time worked by employees is less important than achieving performance objectives including productivity and quality outcomes. Employees have the responsibility for their own time and attendance management. However, since there is a health and safety requirement under the Working Time Regulations that working time is accounted for, attendance records are still required. Therefore, managers must ensure that attendance records are completed by the employee and that these are monitored to ensure legal compliance. In addition, if there is a requirement for employees to work outwith the Council’s working day bandwidth or undertake overtime this information is required in order for the correct salary to be paid.
Normally, there will be no requirement to change the number of hours worked or the working pattern. However, managers and employees can agree to vary the pattern of working hours if this is requested by the employee and agreed by the manager. Flexible working requests from homeworkers will be considered on the same basis as any other employee. It is possible, to work flexible work patterns whilst working at home (for example, compressed working hours). This is subject to the normal considerations regarding flexible working. So, for business reasons it might not be possible to agree to specific requests. For further detail see the Flexible Working Guidelines – FW11:
Normally employees working at home will be expected to work within the 7am – 8pm, Monday – Friday working day bandwidth, subject to agreement with the manager on normal working patterns. Where employees wish to work outwith the working day bandwidth (i.e. evenings after 8 pm and weekends), this must not impact adversely upon performance or accessibility for the manager, colleagues or customers. If such employee requests are agreed, no Unsocial Hours payment will be made for the hours worked outwith the bandwidth hours.