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How can my team work productively from home?

3 April 2020
Jan Friend
COVID-19, Accounting & Compliance, Payroll, People

As you will no doubt be aware the government has ordered anyone who can do so to work from home during the current Coronavirus crisis. We all understand the reasoning and everyone is trying to do their bit to decrease the number of new infections. However, this has left a lot of business owners questioning how they can continue to keep their staff motivated, productive and most importantly mentally well during this spell.

We have some tips which we hope will help those in this unexpected position.

IT Hardware

Wherever possible you should aim to provide your employees with equipment that replicates what they have in the workplace. For most office bound staff this will mean computers, monitors (if they are used to using two monitors we recommend you try to supply them two monitors at home) and an efficient telephone system. We use horizon, which has an app that can be downloaded to our mobile phones and means clients can continue to call the office number and be put through to the correct extension as if we were still all in the office.

Remember that data protection is an important aspect of any business, so you should make sure your staff know to lock screens when not at their computer if there are other people in the house and be careful they are not storing data locally on personally owned equipment if you do not work in the cloud.

Comfort

Although it will be outside your control as to what environment they have to work in at home, we recommend you check that they have sufficient equipment to make themselves comfortable. They will surely be more productive if they are working on a suitable chair at a desk, rather than slouching on their bed with a laptop! We would also urge you to encourage them to keep to a daily routine. Getting dressed for work (even if it’s in jeans and a t-shirt) is surely better than working in pyjamas!

Communication

One of the most important aspects of any business is communication, and this is even more essential when we are all working remotely.

We recommend that management check in on a daily basis with their team members, preferably in a group chat. If this can be done via an internet software, such as Zoom, that is ideal, but if not telephone calls or conference calls will suffice. Zoom calls are brilliant, particularly if everyone has webcams to see each other. This will help your staff feel connected with you and each other, and will also provide a chance to check in on their welfare as well as what they are working on and any roadblocks they are encountering. A group chat also allows a bit of banter and is often a welcome release for everyone.

Make yourself available to take their calls wherever possible, so that they can deal with their issues and then continue working. Maybe weekly whole team meetings would be useful so that the top management can keep everyone abreast of how the business is doing, to stop staff worrying unnecessarily about their jobs.

If all else fails, emails are a good way of communicating during the day, both between team members and with clients.

Finances

Whilst working from home your employees will probably find that their household bills will increase as they will be using more gas and electricity, perhaps more telephone costs. Although you do not need to, if your finances allow you might want to consider making a payment to your employees for home working, to reimburse their additional costs.

If you cover the cost of additional household expenses for an employee who works from home, you do not have to report or pay anything if all the following apply:

  • they need to work from home, (if your workplace is closed then this will definitely be the case)
  • the amount you give them is not more than their additional household expenses
  • the amount you give them is not more than the current weekly limit

Weekly tax limits:

Year Rate per week
From 6 April 2020 £6 (or £27 per month)
Pre 6 April £4 (or £18 per month)

 

The amounts paid to your employees will be tax deductible for your business and tax free in the hands of your staff, provided you keep within the prescribed limits.

We are here to support your business. If you have any concerns please call us or email Mark or Andrew.

You may be interested in our other coronavirus blogs:

How Your Business Can Survive The Coronavirus Crisis: Action plan to get over the coming month

How can I reclaim the Coronavirus SSP?

What are the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans?

Coronavirus – Help for the Self-Employed

The content in this blog is correct as at 03/04/2020. See terms and conditions.

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