What is regular homeworking?
Regular homeworking is when a member of staff from the Research or Professional Services job families has a regular pattern of working from home. For example, two days working from home and three days in the office or laboratory. If the regular homeworking pattern is being requested by a member of staff on a short term basis (for less than two months) this can be agreed informally with a Principal Investigator (PI) or line manager. If the request is for a longer period, it should be agreed in writing.
Other types of homeworking for these groups of staff are:
- Occasional homeworking – when a member of staff requests to work from home on an ad hoc basis with each period of homeworking agreed separately and informally with the line manager.
- Remote working – this is when an employee works entirely from home and has no fixed base at the University. Remote working is usually built into a role as a part of the job design and contract of employment.
Staff in the Education & Research and Education & Scholarship job families are also able to work from home and should read the available guidance in Flexible working: an overview for Education & Scholarship and Education & Research staff.
Regular homeworking can be beneficial for many reasons including to:
- help managers to efficiently manage limited space
- allow services flexibility in their hours of operation, for example allowing enquiries to be answered over an extended period
- reduce the amount of time spent commuting
- provide focussed time to get on top of workload
The parameters of agreed regular homeworking arrangements are set out below and should be considered by all staff before requesting or agreeing homeworking:
- Staff must follow the working from home safely guidance and ensure their work station is adequate.
- Staff should advise landlords or mortgage providers and their building and contents insurers that they intend to work at home. Homeworkers are covered by the University’s insurance policy for employers liability and personal accident in the same way as office-based employees.
- For full-time staff, it is advised that their working pattern should not exceed 3 days per week working from home.
- A letter acknowledging this pattern of working will be issued by HR if the arrangement is proposed for longer than 2 months.
- 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.
- ‘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.
- The usual hours of work apply the same at home as they do in the office – for example if the staff member works flexitime or if has fixed hours this also applies at home.
- Staff working regularly from home should retain flexibility to attend important meetings/events at the University on their homeworking day(s) with appropriate notice.
- When in the office, regular homeworkers may be assigned a shared desk to maximise use of space.
- No additional expenses will be paid for regular homeworkers but an equipment package may be provided. The cost of providing necessary equipment may prohibit regular homeworking and costs should be taken into account when regular homeworking is considered.
- Regular homeworkers must follow the IT guidance for working from home which includes considering security of and access to information that is protected by the Data Protection Act.
If you are a manager considering introducing regular homeworking in your team to meet a business need, please discuss this with your line manager or Academic Lead and following this, your HR Business Partner or Advisor. There is also further guidance for managers available in the Flexible Working Toolkit on introducing flexible working to your team.
If you are an individual wanting to make a request to work regularly from home:
- Think through the details of your request and consider the implications this may have for other team members and your work. Ensure that your request meets the parameters set out above. Read the requesting flexible working guidance.
- Discuss the request with your colleagues and PI or line manager to help you fully understand the feasibility and challenges of your request and begin thinking about how you might address any challenges. You may wish or need to adapt your request as a result of these discussions.
- Assess the safety and appropriateness of your home environment and consider the equipment available to you. Use the working from home safely and working from home effectively guidance. If you are certain that your homeworking environment meets the minimum standards required, you can proceed to step 4.
- Follow the making a flexible working request guidance and complete a flexible working request form.
There are many benefits and positives to homeworking. There are also sometimes issues associated with it; many of these can be easily overcome. Managers agreeing homeworking and staff requesting it should fully consider the impact of the request before proceeding.
As with all flexible working arrangements, responsibility for making homeworking work must be shared by employees and managers. Together you need to assess opportunities and challenges in any proposed arrangement openly and honestly. As the business environment and individual circumstances are continually changing, homeworking arrangements should be reviewed regularly and any issues that arise are best dealt with as soon as possible.
Further guidance is available in this Flexible Working Toolkit including guidance on other types of homeworking:
- Working from home safely
- Working from home effectively
- IT guidance for working at home
- Occasional homeworking guidance
- Remote working guidance
Please speak to your line manager in the first instance to discuss your individual or team circumstances. Your HR Business Partner/Advisor is available should any further support and guidance be needed.