Carry On

The future of home working - impacts & repercussions

New research out this week from the Institute of Directors (IOD) has revealed that in a survey of 1000 firms, three quarters (74%) say they plan on keeping increased home-working after Coronavirus. More than half also said their organisation intended to reduce their long-term use of the workplace (See https://www.iod.com/news-campaigns/press-office/details/Home-working-here-to-stay-new-IoD-figures-suggest).  

But what does this mean for us as individuals? Experts have shared their views below;

Isolation

Keiron Sparrowhawk is a neuroscientist and founder of the mind restoring and cognitive workout app, MyCognition (www.mycognition.com), which many companies have been encouraging their staff to download and use daily to improve their mental health. He says: “Working from home might be ideal for some, but can make many others feel very isolated, especially when for a long term basis. This is particularly pertinent for people who are either “deep thinkers” or “creative types” and require face to face human contact to express their thoughts and feelings. It has never been so important for employers to consider their staff’s mental health when making long term work from home plans. Ensure that there are routine communications across and between staff members, with regular updates, agreed targets and sufficient team support in place. Wherever they are working, the health of your staff is paramount.”

Security issues

With everyone working from home or in informal shared workspaces like cafes, employers need to ensure their team’s IT security is safe from fraud. Francesca Dowling, Head of Compliance at the business money app, Amaiz (www.amaiz.com) says: “Working from home or external workspaces increases the risk of fraud and there are some very talented experts out there working to target the most vulnerable. 

“Employers need to make sure their team treats security as a priority, installing updates, having secure passwords and are changing them regularly. It is worth forcing some of these issues by making changing your password regularly mandatory. There’s also the matter of holding data on a personal laptop  – don’t let employees use their own device for work unless they have quality anti-virus software. 

“Many employees go to cafes or hotel lobbies and log onto the WiFi there but, you would be shocked at how easy it is for a fraudster to set up a very convincing WiFi that steals your passwords and bank details. If employees need to use public WiFi, they need to make absolutely sure they have the right one and if they’ve logged into a suspicious account, disconnect immediately, get onto safe WiFi and change all your passwords, particularly your bank ones and alert your security team.”

Claim your Tax

Tax Expert, Tommy McNally, founder of Tommys Tax (www.tommystax.com) says: “With employees working from home, they are using their own gas, water and electricity. This is all stuff they can claim for but so many don’t bother because they’re too busy, they don’t realise they’re eligible or it’s just too complicated. It’s also worth checking that you’re on the right tax code and if there are other things that you could be eligible to claim for when you were working from your company’s premises, such as uniforms, travel costs or food.”

Inspiring the Team

Arguably it will be even harder for managers to inspire their teams but Ifty Nasir, CEO of Vestd (www.vestd.com), the shared equity management platform, says: “Our team has been working remotely for the past two years and the most important thing, on both sides, is trust. You’ll need to get comfortable with the fact that you can’t see your colleagues each day, so how will you know for sure that they’re working? Focus on the output, not input. Trust one another to take responsibility for their own performance against agreed deliverables, outputs and outcomes. Tools and regular video meetings can help you track progress and performance. 

“Be transparent – share plans for the future. Share recruitment news, customer feedback and changes in processes and polices. Training and mentoring, online, are also very important.”

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