Working from home effectively
This guidance applies to all staff in all job families who work from home either on an occasional basis, regularly or are employed as remote employees.
Staff in the Professional Services and Research job families will need to discuss homeworking arrangements with their line manager or Principal Investigator in the first instance. Read the overview of homeworking for these staff in this section of the Flexible Working Toolkit.
Academic staff in the Education & Scholarship and Education & Research job families are usually able to work from home to meet the requirements of their role without discussing this with their academic lead but the guidance in the Academic staff attendance and workload policy and working from home safely guidance must be followed.
All staff working from home must follow the Working from home safely guidance before commencing homeworking. Ignoring safety guidance can lead to decreased effectivity in the long term.
There may be some restrictions on your home environment that prevent homeworking – this could be related to safety and be identified in your self-assessment or it could be related to technology – for example whether you have the necessary IT equipment or if you have a fast enough internet connection to enable homeworking.
You MUST set up your home work station and complete a homeworking self-assessment before you start working from home.
You are advised to trial the technology you will use to connect to work systems in advance of the day(s) you are planning to work from home. You may find that additional set up or contact is needed with IT before you are fully enabled to work from home. This can delay or stop your work completely and so it is best to set this up in advance.
You can read about accessing files and services from home in the IT guidance for flexible working.
It’s a good idea to plan what work you will do from home in advance so that you can prepare adequately. You may need to bring printed documents or notes from work or ensure that you have the necessary information before you can complete your planned tasks.
Your manager may set objectives for your homeworking and may request a report of what you have done when you return to the office.
Connecting to IT systems, like email, from home is essential for staff who choose to work at home. This ability to connect can make the boundaries between ‘working’ and ‘not working’ more fluid. This has benefits for work-life balance but can also be detrimental if not managed well. You should be mindful of this and disconnect from work systems outside of your working hours.
There may be exceptional circumstances where you need to remain connected but this should be the exception rather than standard practice.
All employees, regardless of their work location, are advised to take at least a 30 minute rest break for every 6 hours worked. Many staff working from home forget or choose not to take a break but this is not advised as it can affect your health and your productivity. It is recommended that you take a 5 minute break from the screen in every hour, this could be a change of task such as to make a telephone call.
It is important to establish a work schedule when working from home. Many homeworkers find that they work long hours as there is no clear signal to the end of the day. It is important to set yourself time limits so that you do not find it difficult to end your day.
Staff working from home should usually be available for contact by telephone and/or email as normal during their working day.
Staff must always make it clear to colleagues where they are working and how best to contact them:
- Keeping your Outlook calendar up to date and sharing this as widely as possible is good practice.
- Lync can also be used to highlight your location and availability.
Working from home is not a sufficient reason to be unavailable to attend meetings as we have the technology to allow staff to join meetings online.
If the purpose of occasional homeworking is to allow a period of quiet focussed work with minimal interruption, then the staff member should make this clear to their team and on their out of office but remain available for emergency contact.
If you are planning to work from home but are sick, you should report this promptly in the usual way following the sickness absence guidance.
Employees who were not planning to work from home but report that they are sick, should not choose or be expected to work from home instead of coming in to work. It is important to rest from work.
There are some situations where working from home is advised during a phased return from a long term sickness absence. You should seek advice from Occupational Health in these circumstances.
It is not appropriate to combine homeworking with dependent care and homeworking is not an alternative to paid dependent care. You must not have sole responsibility for a child or other dependant during your working hours.
Effectiveness of homeworking arrangements are dependent on flexibility. You may work regularly from home on a particular day or you may plan to work from home at a particular time but it may be necessary to change this should something arise such as an important meeting. You should maintain flexibility to attend important meetings/events at the University on your homeworking day(s) with appropriate notice.
Further guidance is available:
- Working from home safely
- Occasional homeworking guidance
- Regular homeworking guidance
- Remote working guidance
To discuss your individual or team circumstances, please speak to your line manager in the first instance and then your HR Business Partner/Advisor for anything further.