Working from home has been embraced by employees as the light at the end of the tunnel. When the pandemic struck the uncertainty around having a job coupled with pressure of paying bills saw this option as the way out of financial turmoil.
The fact that businesses have included working from home in their business model implies that they are able to look at the options available to cater for the needs of their employees. But how does this do with including employees that are laden with work from home challenges?
Many of our staff might not live alone. They might be sharing their home with family members or even roommates. Some of them might even be challenged with living in informal settlements and townships making it difficult to access electricity and a working WiFi connection. Does this mean that they should be excluded from the new work model?
In order to make work from home a reality and to not be excluded from this new regime an employee might just step up and grab the opportunity but the challenges that come along with this might set them back from showing their full potential and putting their best effort into a task.
What can be done to address more inclusivity and diversity in the new work from home model?
- We should start by engaging with our team on a one-on-one basis. It is pointless bringing the idea of work from home up in a group meeting in which most people are hesitant to raise any concerns. By speaking to our staff members individually we are able to identify what their challenges are and perhaps even assist them with solutions to solve this challenge.
- Since we have implemented the work from home model what have been our concerns? If it has been in place for a while perhaps this is the time to try and have a discussion around these facts and to look at how to better the work from home model being used by these staff. We should look at things like are we catering for the data needs of our staff? Is that included in their salary? It is for these reasons that we have the conversation around challenges.
- On the topic of data, we must acknowledge that not all staff are able to use a reliable internet connection. Some might still be using their phones as a modem or even struggling to connect due to the area they live in not having a stable internet connection. What can be done to remedy this is provide? We should provide a work from home kit or pack for staff needing resources to work from home. This means allowing access to staff to have company laptops and modems. This will allow them to complete their work and meet deadlines without excuses of resources.
- The aim of working from home previously was to reduce staff capacity in the office but now that more people are vaccinated the need to work from home has been reduced. More and more staff are working from the office now as we approach the festive rush, targets need to be met and economic recovery is a high priority. But how do we keep an open mind to staff not wanting to vaccinate?
This is the puzzling question most businesses are facing. Implementing a vaccination policy is the approach most businesses are likely to take but until this does happen how can we cater for the views of those that are not wanting to vaccinate? In this instance a better approach would be to continue to allow those staff not wanting to vaccinate to work from home. This displays our openness to diversity and respecting the choices of our team.
- Working from home is not without its challenges and if the latest load-shedding roll outs are any indication this does have an impact on our online meetings. As a manager be understanding to these challenges. Ask team members to update you on their power outage schedule and ask them to fill in the time when the power returns. The whole 9 to 5 work day must be adjusted to help people work around these challenges.
Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, a South African TVET College. He is the author of Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us, AND My Leadership Legacy Journal available from the ICHAF Training Institute. The ICHAF Training Institute offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.