Working at home in your P.J’s – is it good for business?

After seeing emails from my colleagues in one office asking for their Friday morning butty orders, another office exuding the pleasures in ‘real’ coffee, and another sharing the pleasures of ‘toast and jam’ Friday I had to share my own delight of working from home in my PJ’s and a suitable picture followed [not me directly I hasten to add!].

This however has got me thinking about home working, how effective are we if we work in our pyjamas, and whether my colleagues now think I am really having a jolly and not working at all!

Working from home is not easy – it can present challenges both to the employee and manager – whether this is a permanent feature of the job or a flexible working option which can be used from time to time.

The most important aspect for a manager is not to just jump to the conclusion that your employee will be sat watching Countdown or ‘gaming’ on their PC.  Trust is everything and is the biggest barrier to successful homeworking.

Managers need to consider how to manage outputs rather than inputs and be clear from the outset how work performance will be managed and measured.  Communication is also important so that the homeworker is not isolated from the business, so make sure that you communicate on a regular basis through Skype calls, emails and arrange to have face-to-face reviews in the office.

Home-workers also tend to work longer hours as they feel that their day is shorter due to not having that long commute.  So monitor their work-life balance, encourage them to take breaks and ensure that they don’t burn out.

As a home-worker, you need to be self-disciplined and self-motivated.  You need to be able to work for long periods without contact with others and to be confident working without supervision.  You also need to avoid doing those quick chores like stacking the dishwasher, hoovering the lounge or hanging out the washing.

So, ensure you have a regime – get up, dressed and be ready to start work as you would if you are going to the office.  Make sure you have a dedicated work space and structure your day as if you would in the office.  Remember to take a break from time to time, whether that is just standing up or popping into the garden, and use technology to keep in touch with your colleagues but remove all temptation of those social media platforms!

So having self-reflected on effective home-working I am now off for a quick shower, get out of my pyjamas and dressed and I will be back to my home office in a jiffy!

Elaine Fisher is a Director and Senior HR Consultant at Eagle HR and a Partner (non-lawyer) at Harrison Clark Rickerbys, contact her on 01905 746 446 or email her at efisher@hcrlaw.com