Working from home often conjures up the image of people lounging about in their pyjamas, possibly stealing the odd nap here and there (well, you would, wouldn’t you?), and best of all working without your manager or colleagues watching your every move.
But in reality, flexible or remote working is fast becoming one of the best ways to work and is becoming more and more popular. While there are obvious reasons it suits the employee; reducing travel costs, managing childcare and improve work/life balance, it also favours the employer.
I’m writing this article from the comfort of my home as, luckily, I need very little equipment to make it work: broadband, a laptop, access to work emails and shared drives and a phone. It means I’ve got the flexibility to look after my five-month-old without going brain dead by doing something creative.
But it comes as no surprise to know that most media jobs allow working from home because of the nature of the job but there are more careers who are jumping on remote working bandwagon. In fact, HR/recruitment was one of the fastest growing areas for working remotely in 2016.
Flexjobs, which carried out the research, has also just released its list of the top 100 companies for flexible working and while IT companies dominate the top spots, there are a number of areas which hadn’t made the list before.
Brie Reynolds, Senior Career Specialist at FlexJobs, says: “While medical and health, computer and IT, customer service, education and training and sales have been well-represented on our previous annual lists, the finance and government career fields have really bolstered their presence in remote job opportunities. There are a huge variety of career fields offering remote jobs today.
Aon Hewitt, Xerox, and IT Pros have recently recruited for remote jobs in HR and recruiting. Recruiter, human resources specialist, and human resources manager are some common remote job titles in this category.”
What you need to work remotely?
Now this obviously depends on the business and work involved but, for HR and recruitment, it may be as simple as having access to a computer and internet. Most homes these days have broadband, but if not, then you can arrange the installation of a phone/broadband, or, if you have the provisions, a visit from the employer’s technical staff.
This is crucial for working remotely (obviously) and it could be as basic as giving employees access to the organisation’s emails and network drives or installing software like Skype to do interviews and video conference calls. A PC or laptop is pretty much all they need to do this and whilst most people will have this at home, a lot of companies do actually provide their own fully-loaded with all the drives, technology and software they need. It also means, if it breaks they can be replaced pretty quickly and easily.
Realistically, this can be an employee’s lap, a corner of their sofa or sitting at the dining table, but only if it’s just their laptop that they need. But if you want them to switch from home-mode to work-mode then they can easily set up their “office desk” in the corner of one their rooms, which has access to broadband and phone (landline or mobile phone signal), with their computer, paperwork and anything else they need to do the job. They can then treat it as if they were actually in the office, without all the usual distractions like gossiping colleagues, treats brought in for someone’s birthday, or answering the phone which has been re-directed.
Who is remote working for?
While we all love the sound of allowing our employees to work from home for a number of reasons like cutting overheads and maximising office space, sadly not everyone is cut out for it.
Homeworkers ideally need to be:
- Happy to spend long periods on their own – if they’re someone who needs to be in the company of others then this isn’t for them
- Self-disciplined and self-motivated – this speaks for itself. If they’re too laid-back or find they can’t resist the draw of day-time TV then they need to stick to working from the office
- A resilient personality who doesn’t let setbacks get them down – there may be times where they won’t be able to get things done, especially if technology has let them down and if they can’t cope with this or can’t find an alternative way of working then there’s no point working remotely
- Confident working without supervision – lots of people thrive on this but if they need constant reassurance that they’re doing the task in hand correctly, then they’re better off walking over to the manager’s desk instead of calling or messaging you every two minutes
- Able to separate work from home life – and this is key. If they can’t switch their mind off from all the household chores they can see around them, or they put work at the end of their to-do list, then don’t bother asking them to work remotely.
Laura Deegan, one of the co-founders of Ernest Hunter Green, says they’ve made remote working a success for them. She says: “By offering true flexibility through remote working you offer the ideal working environment for an individual, it backs up our ethos of providing a genuinely ‘grown up’ trusting recruitment consultancy which we believe leads to a relationship based approach to candidates and clients.
It has enabled us to remove ourselves from the micro managed, volume based, KPI focused recruitment company stigma and do what we do best; consult and advise.“
Working remotely can often work for both the employer and employee and quite successfully, as it’s been proven, but it’s not for everyone. If you like the idea of offering remote working but aren’t doing it already or you don’t want to go all out then you could try allowing some staff working remotely once a month or even once a week to see how it goes.