Please note: The information contained in this blog is correct as of 27/03/2020. As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, legal guidance may change and, while we will do our best to ensure our blogs are updated, it is always advisable to speak to a solicitor if you need specific advice.

Many people will be working from home for the first time this week following the Prime Minister’s decision to allow people only to leave their homes under a list of “very limited purposes”, banning public gatherings of more than two people and ordering the closure of non-essential shops. These people will be joining the millions of people that already regularly work from home successfully and productively.

Employers and employees should be practical, flexible and sensitive to each other’s situation when working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. Changing to homeworking may be daunting for many line managers and employees, particularly if they’re used to working together face-to-face. It’s important to build up a good relationship of trust and confidence.

Employers and line managers need to make sure that staff working from home know what’s expected of them.

This includes agreeing:

  • when employees will be available to work

  • how they will keep in touch

  • how work-life balance will be managed, for example taking regular breaks and switching off from work at the end of the day

  • rules on data protection and confidentiality

  • how performance will be managed taking into account people’s circumstances where necessary

  • who staff should get in touch with if they have any problems or their circumstances change

It’s important to recognise that some employees may find it hard to motivate and organise themselves when working from home. If this happens, the line manager and employee should talk about practical steps that might help.

Things to consider implementing to ensure you remain motivated and productive whilst working from home include:

  1. Establish a routine and stick to it

You should be ready to start your day at the same time as you would normally arrive to your office or workplace and finish your day at the same time.  At the end of the working day, you should tidy your work station, turn off your computer and put any papers away.

Where possible, create a work space for that purpose only and have a desk and chair which is adjusted appropriately as you would at your place of work. Having a designated space for work only allows you to properly switch off at the end of the day.

  1. Take regular breaks

Don’t stay glued to your screen all day. It’s important to take regular breaks and get up from your desk and move around just as you would when at your place of work.  You might want to go a short walk as a break to stretch your legs.

  1. Use technology to stay connected

Working from home might help you focus on your work in the short term, but it can also make you feel cut off. Instant messaging, phone calls and video conferencing calls can make it easy to check in with colleagues and remind you how your work is contributing to the wider goal. This is especially important where you might not speak to anyone all day depending on the work you do.

  1. Set clear expectations with anyone at home with you

You might be working from home but still have company. Make sure any partners, room mates and children respect your space during work hours. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re home and available for them.

  1. Plan your day in advance

Even if you don’t have a strict work schedule, it can help to make a list of tasks to get done in a given day or week to focus your mind and adhere to the deadlines set.

Farleys’ employment law solicitors are also working from home but are on hand for advice on any legal matters you may be encountering as an employer or employee. You can contact the team by email or by calling 0845 287 0939.

If you are an employer looking for advice on homeworking policies, you can download our free homeworking policy example here.