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21.07.2021

“Should I allow staff to work remotely?”

By Samantha Crotty

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have had to adapt their workforce arrangements in order to safeguard the health and wellbeing of their employees as well as striving to continue to trade during these unprecedented times. As a result, the number of employees who made the move to work from home increased, creating a new dynamic and challenge for employers. However, advances in mobile communications technology are allowing remote work to become a modern-day practice with many employers set to make it a permanent model.

This creates a question for employers: Should I allow staff to work remotely? While it may seem straightforward to facilitate, there are several factors to consider before committing to this. Let’s take a look at what those are.

Remote Work Policy

The best way to ensure all areas are covered is to have a Remote Work Policy in place. Your policy should highlight areas of importance and give employees a clear understanding of their responsibilities whilst working outside of their normal location. Your policy should address:

  • Remote work criteria
  • Health & safety responsibilities of both the employer and the employee
  • Workstation ergonomics
  • Accident/incident reporting
  • IT systems
  • Communication
  • Performance management

Working hours

Whilst employees are required to fulfil their contractual working hours, it’s important that adherence to the Organisation of Working Time Act is also complied with:

  • A daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24 hours.
  • A weekly rest period of 24 hours per seven days, following a daily rest period.
  • A 15-minute break if working more than 4.5 hours.
  • A 30-minute break if working more than six hours.

In the event of a change to an employee’s working location, attendance at important meetings or participation in group projects may be impacted. It may also cause disruption to the daily activities of the business. Here, it’s worth noting the Right to Disconnect.

Company equipment

When considering allowing employees to work from home, take into account the potentially expensive equipment required for many employees to complete their daily working tasks, such as laptops and phones.

It’s recommended that a Company Equipment Procedure is put in place to ensure effective asset management and avoid loss of revenue if the equipment is to be transported.

Legislation

Although no legal requirement exists yet, employers will need to put flexible working arrangements in place before August 2022 to comply with the EU Directive on Work-Life Balance.

When the Directive is transposed into Irish law, employees will have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements. Once the new law is in place, it will set out employer obligations when such a request is received. So, it’s in your best interest to review your current remote working practices and plan ahead.

Confidentiality

In order to be GDPR compliant and maintain a professional relationship with clients and customers, it’s advised that strict measures are put in place to ensure the location of the employee is one of a private setting. Correct security measures should also be put in place, such as a VPN. This will significantly reduce the risk of a data breach whilst ensuring your reputation is maintained as normal.

In conclusion

Overall, there are a number of factors to take into consideration when facilitating a request to work remotely. But there are also many benefits:

  • Reduced absence
  • Happier workforce
  • Increased productivity
  • Better retention

Essentially, whatever you decide, be sure to review all of the above topics and have a robust Remote Work Policy in place to ensure a clear and transparent approach to remote working.

Need our help planning for remote working?

Having read our article, you may have questions on planning for remote working. If so, speak to one of Graphite’s HR experts now on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

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