Keeping in touch
It’s 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, particularly if working from home due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Getting communication right
Where possible, employers should provide different ways for people to stay in touch to prevent feelings of loneliness and 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:
- ask the employee how they are feeling
- be aware of any changes in behaviour or tone of voice
- listen carefully to any concerns
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, and make sure there are enough gaps between meetings
- make the purpose of the meeting clear to those attending
- check if anyone might find attending difficult, for example because of caring responsibilities or disruptions
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 if 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 because of COVID-19
- posting an induction pack to their home
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.