Smartworks is pleased to announce the launch of its Home-Worker program and with our considerable experience in residential technology services, we look forward to working with businesses and individuals alike to develop effective home-working strategies.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has made home-working a necessity for a significant portion of the UKs workforce and like so many drastic changes that have been imposed on society recently, we have had to adapt almost overnight to a new-normal, which very much now appears to be here to stay and home working needs to considered as long-term.

It’s important therefore that home-working moves beyond the makeshift approach that many have understandably had to implement in recent weeks and months as a reaction to the crisis and toward a fully considered and formulated home working strategy in order to ensure wellbeing, productivity, health and safety and so on are considered. We firmly believe that home-working, when implemented correctly can be hugely beneficial as part of a broader set of working modalities.

Smartworks can provide a comprehensive set of services to from initial consultation and viability studies, to implementation and ongoing support.

Providing the opportunity for your workforce to work from home can be hugely empowering to the individual team members because it demonstrates trust and confidence that they will, to some extent, be responsible for managing their time during the working day. That said, a lack of physical face-to-face contact with a supervisor/manager and other colleagues can lead to a sense of isolation if the right channels of communication and access to support are not maintained. We can provide guidance on how to create the right home working strategy to maintain and optimise staff wellbeing and can supply and manage the physical tools to turn that strategy into effective working practices that will benefit both the employee and the business.

The days of the traditional corporate office network, with clearly defined boundaries and a relatively straightforward security model (“inside good, outside bad”) are long gone. Home working, remote working, cloud services, public WiFi spaces and BYOD smart devices have all meant that the it is harder than ever to identify where the corporate environment starts and ends. Defining the right security approach is equally challenging but we have the experience and tools at hand to ensure that home working does not have to compromise either corporate security or the performance of a distributed corporate network.

There is no substitute for face-to-face contact between team members and especially, with clients. That said, convenience and more recently, necessity have dictated that we sometimes need to look to technology to provide a viable substitute. By deploying the right technology solutions such as HD-IP phones, video conferencing interfaces and collaboration software we can effectively break down the barriers presented when face-to-face contact is not practical. In recent months we have seen the make-shift home office become the norm but now is the time to invest in professional solutions to make the home office a viable long term environment for effective communication between workers and clients.

Homeworkers can be hugely productive when given the right tools and when they are working from a suitable environment. You’ve already empowered staff through trust by allowing them to work from a remote location, so they will likely be motivated to return that trust through productivity. By ensuring that the location is suitably appointed and conducive to effective working it should be possible for a win-win with your homeworking staff member. We can conduct viability studies to look at core business functions and then assess the suitability of a variety of home working scenarios to ensure that the move to home working will be successful, we can then design and deploy suitable workspaces to meet the needs of the business and the employee and these include mechanisms to measure and optimise performance.

The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has very clear guidelines on how to protect employees when working from home.

“As an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers” –

When someone is working from home, permanently or temporarily there are some key considerations and also statutory requirements which businesses must adhere to. In a practical sense these tend to focus firstly on the physical nature of home working, specifically the home workstation environment and the safe use of DSE (display screen equipment). These apply to any employee that needs to use electronic equipment with a display either on a daily basis or for more than one hour at any one time. Training, completing DSE assessments, eye tests (when requested by and employee) are all requirements by law. The aim is to reduce the risk of physical injury through repetitive strain to necks, shoulders, backs, arms, wrists and hands as well as fatigue and eye strain. Secondly, the HSE requires that employers consider the mental wellbeing of their employees when working remotely from supervisors and other staff and how effective lines of communication can mitigate the risk of remote workers feeling isolated.
At Smartworks, our expertise in both technological solutions and their application to residential environments mean that we can develop a strategy for your business as a whole and one that can be tailored to your employees individual needs in order to keep everyone safe whilst working from home.

Employees who work regularly from home are entitled to tax relief. There are flat rates available for home workers as well as relief against specific expenditure (heating, electricity etc) We can help navigate the tax implications of home working to ensure that staff understand, and can access, the reliefs available from HMRC.