skip to main content

I’m working from home tomorrow………yeah, right

If you’re a fan of Ken Bruce on Radio 2, as I am, you’ll know that he’s well known for a few things.  He chairs the best Pop Quiz in the World - “Pop Master”-  every day at 10.30am, he collects and drives buses, is the first into the Pub and the last at the Bar and has a healthy suspicion of anyone who tells him they’re” working from home” when they call/write in.

But now we are all being encouraged to do just that.  I had a call from a longstanding client yesterday about the Equality and Diversity issues surrounding this.  Like many businesses he could see the opportunity for some staff to work from home, but as a part of the Creative Industry he also needs people in the Office to co-ordinate the output.

The biggest problem was concerned with everyone’s proximity to each other – no company is going to give you 25 square metres of your own space – so there was a pressing need for my client to send some people home so that staff in the office are at a safe distance from each other so that if anyone sneezes nobody dies.

So the answer was to draw up a list of those who could go home/need to stay in the office.  Anyone nearing retirement or with Child care responsibilities really need to be out the office.  Anyone with a long commute needs to be considered, if only because they’re going to be touching more petrol pumps/spending more time sitting on a crowded train.

Then it’s time to consider who do your employees live with?  Your Office Manager is a fit 25 year old who does triathlons at the drop of a hat……..but her partner is diabetic.  Bob in accounts is low risk, but he still lives with his Mum who turns 75 at Easter.

The bottom line, under equality, diversity and inclusion criteria, is that you must do two things:

  • Everyone who is identified in one of the above criteria, or those applicable in your business is treated the same
  • You must publish your rationale for allowing some to go home

Be prepared.  Not everyone is going to be delighted about having to come in to work.  Is there anything you can do?  Pay for their lunches?  Pay Travel costs? Give them extra Holiday or an attendance bonus?

As a serial homeworker I can tell you that, lovely as it is to avoid the morning commute (or shave), there are certain rules you need to lay down with a) your partner/family and b) your boss/co-workers and yourself:

  • Understand that any phrase that starts with “I know you’re supposed to be working…..” must be answered with “No, I AM working”
  • No, there is no time to walk the Dog/pop to Sainsbury’s/put the washing out/pick up the Dry Cleaning except in the breaks you’d normally have
  • Just because you are at home you are allowed a proper lunch break
  • It is NOT OK to get a call from the Office outside office hours – unless someone has died.  The same applies to emails
  • Don’t fill up with Petrol and claim it on expenses
  • Do not get caught, as a colleague of mine once did, on SKY TV watching the first session of the third Test Match at Edgbaston when you’re supposed to be at home “chasing up a few new leads”.

The most important thing to remember is that your morning Coffee Break is 10.30 to 10.45.  Then you can listen to “Pop Master” and keep both your boss and Ken Bruce happy.


Get in touch