Working from home during the coronavirus pandemic

Keeping in touch

It’s particularly important for employers and employees to keep in touch with each other when working from home.

It’s a good idea to:

  • agree how and when to communicate with each other
  • make sure everyone has the right tools to keep in contact and knows how to use them
  • be understanding and flexible about individual circumstances during this time

Employers should keep everyone up to date and involved in decisions about working arrangements and returning to the workplace.

Getting communication right

Where possible, employers should provide different ways for people to stay in touch to prevent feelings of isolation. For example, instant messenger tools, video meetings, as well as emails. 

It’s important to find the right balance and be clear about the purpose for getting in touch. Constant or unnecessary contact can cause stress and affect morale.

Using too many different methods to communicate can also be confusing and stressful. Employers should talk to their employees and any representatives about which communication methods work best and when.

It can be harder to notice problems people are having if you’re not meeting face-to-face. When communicating remotely, employers and managers should:

  • start conversations
  • ask questions
  • be aware of any changes in behaviour or tone of voice
  • listen carefully to any concerns

Remote meetings

Online meetings are one of the main ways to communicate remotely, but should be used in the right way.

Too many meetings can reduce productivity and cause stress, anxiety and fatigue.

When arranging a meeting you should:

  • make sure it’s definitely needed
  • schedule it as far in advance as possible
  • make clear the purpose of the meeting to those attending
  • check if anyone might find attending difficult, for example because of caring responsibilities or disruptions

One-to-one meetings

One-to-one meetings are good opportunities to talk about how work is going, as well as how people are feeling. 

Managers should have regular one-to-ones with each member of their team, including new starters.

Supporting new starters who are working from home

Starting a new job can be a daunting experience, particularly when someone is joining remotely.

New starters may feel isolated from their new role and colleagues when they cannot meet face-to-face. 

It’s important that their employer and manager finds ways to help them settle in, for example by:

  • briefly explaining the organisation’s structure and how their role fits in
  • setting out a clear schedule for their first week, including appointments to meet colleagues
  • putting together short welcome messages from team members and management, with photos if possible
  • giving some basic information about the usual workplace, particularly if working from home is only temporary
  • posting an induction pack to their home

Social activities

Making time for social activities can help keep employees feeling connected and motivated. For example, quizzes and coffee catch-ups using video calls.

It’s important to make sure everyone feels included, no matter where they are working.