Remote Worker thinking - The Rise of the Remote Worker

The Rise of the Remote Worker

As life starts to take on a sense of normality – albeit tentatively – our thoughts turn to getting our businesses back on track. Many employers now find themselves having to choose between bringing employees back into the work environment or allowing team members that can work from home to continue to do so and to remain a remote worker. This in itself brings new challenges to even the most experienced manager or team leader.

Let’s take a brief look at remote and mobile working and the challenges, advantages and disadvantages it brings.

Protecting your business:

Remote or mobile working, if not managed well, can increase your businesses vulnerability to hackers who can capture sensitive data on its way to or from mobile devices.  Working remotely could mean your employees’ devices are not protected in the same way as when they are on your organisation’s premises.

It’s important that remote workers are fully aware of their responsibility to protect your company data from the susceptibilities associated with remote access and take appropriate action to safeguard your data.  There are many precautions a remote worker can take to protect their devices, and ultimately your business, such as:

  • Always storing their device safely and not in public view
  • Being vigilant to the theft of devices when out and about
  • Being alert to ‘shoulder surfing’!
  • Securing devices by setting a screen lock with a PIN, strong password, or complex pattern
  • Locking the screen on their device when not in use
  • Keeping work devices separate from devices that are for family use
  • Ensuring devices have up to date security software that includes anti-virus and anti-malware
  • Keeping their home internet security up to date and running regular updates

Managing individual remote and mobile workers’ wellbeing:

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) defines remote working as a ‘type of flexible working which depends on the agreement between an employer and employee’.

While this may seem like the ideal working practice to give workers a happy work/life balance there are of course advantages and disadvantages.

The Advantages

For the majority of employees, the attraction of being a remote worker lays mostly with the flexibility it provides – control over how they spend their time is a huge pulling factor – and the removal of a stressful commute.   This, in turn, benefits employers as they have a happier, more productive team and can help to reduce their overheads.

The Disadvantages

When working remotely employees can miss the one-on-one communication that comes from working in an office setting, this may lead to a feeling of isolation or feeling ‘out of the loop’.  Some remote workers can also struggle to separate their work and home lives which has a negative impact on the work-life balance they want and need.

Employers can find it challenging to manage remote workers as it’s difficult to monitor someone you don’t see every day, you can only ‘see’ what they tell you, and unless you are made aware there is a problem it may not become apparent very quickly.

Responsibilities

Regardless of location employers are responsible for the health and safety of all their employees, meaning they must provide the same protection for both remote and office-based workers.

This includes carrying out all relevant risk assessments to identify potential hazards, implementation of appropriate control measures and establishing a system for reporting hazards.

Remote workers MUST be made aware that they are responsible for their own health and safety and also that of anyone in the vicinity of their home working station, this includes family and friends.

An active body is an active mind

Recent studies have shown that around 85% of workers in the UK spend upwards of 6 hours sitting at their desks – only getting up occasionally for a comfort break.    Being active is critical to an individual’s health and wellbeing; luckily employees can implement a few simple steps to ensure they keep moving and don’t feel chained to their desk such as:

  • Keep refreshments away from the desk so you have to get up to fetch them.
  • Take a lunchtime stroll around the block.
  • Invest in sit-stand desks – ask your employer!

So, there we have it, a brief look at the pros and cons of the ‘new norm’ – remote and mobile working.  Whether this is the way your business is heading or not it’s worth knowing that if managed correctly it can benefit employers and employees in equal measure.

Developing your own skills and those of your staff and colleagues is an inherent part of growing a business – incorporating e-Learning as part of this can be extremely cost-effective and efficient.  Find a training partner who can provide you with a mix of learning options which include off-the-shelf courses and bespoke development to really boost your business growth.

Blunt advice – that would be Yorkshire Powerhouse

Have you any questions?

Here at Yorkshire Powerhouse, we’re happy to help as much as possible – is there anything else we can do to help you, do you have any further questions or can we help introduce you to an expert – please let us know:

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