What to consider when staff work remotely
Is work from home here to stay?23rd Jun 2022
During the pandemic businesses of all shapes and sizes had to adapt and make room for employees working from home (WFH) to adhere to strict quarantine rules that were imposed on all the world over.
Two years on, WFH is a common option. Alternatively, businesses offer a hybrid way of working or more flexibility when it comes to hours.
Estate managers are not immune to WFH requests. Of course, there are certain professions where this can’t work – such as with ground maintenance staff, but it could be a consideration for certain admin staff.
But how fair is this and what are the other issues that estate managers may have to deal with when it comes to granting permission for remote work?
One of the many advantages of WFH is the ability to save on transport costs. However, when it comes to certain members of staff on the estate who are not able to WFH like groundsmen or security this cost saving will not be possible. To even the odds, employers may have to offer a travel allowance to create a level playing field, especially if they are offering this perk to other staff.
Dr. Richard Malkin, CEO of Workforce Healthcare explains: “Remote work is here to stay. Employers are still encouraged to have staff on rotation and working remotely to reduce numbers in offices and minimise risk.
“Employees realise that they can work from home, spend less time in the traffic, save the costs of transport and even if they don’t feel well, they can still put in a productive day at home. They now face several issues that they need to tackle to ensure fairness in the workplace and protect their businesses. Grey areas must be addressed to clarify the terms of the employer-employee relationship.”
If you allow staff to WFH they may have to take office equipment with them. It could mean that company information and intellectual property will need some added protection.
Bear in mind that you also must adhere to the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA). Find out how this is affected and make changes to security accordingly.
Keeping up with the law
Workforce Healthcare point out that the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations, Labour Relations Act and POPIA extend to remote work too. This means that employers should conduct inspections, location approval, risk assessments and audits.
Costs of WFH
Costs of allowing employees to work from home should also be considered. You may need to kit your employees’ home out with the right equipment.
Malkin explains: “There is an obligation on the employer to facilitate an environment and if possible, a remote working environment for employees with comorbidities who face poor health outcomes with Covid-19. As time goes by, this may be the only scenario in which set up and running costs of a remote office are warranted.”
WFH may not suit everyone. Many people prefer the socialisation and the buzz that an office brings. The needs of all workers’ mental health must be considered.
“Isolation does not work for everyone and can have a negative impact on productivity,” Malkin warns. “Collaboration and team effort also take a back seat when working remotely and meeting virtually has its limits for team spirit.”