Flexible Working
ERDF logo

Dec 2019 – How to Start Working From Home

The introduction of flexible working regulations back in 2014 meant that millions of people across the country could request flexible working with their employers as long as they’ve been in service for 26 weeks or more. While employers are not obligated to accept the proposal from an employee, they are obligated to at least consider it. This led to many unique work-at-home opportunities for employees that were frustrated by long commute times and poor, often crowded, work environments.

Even today, most people don’t realise that it’s possible to submit an application for flexible working arrangements, but it’s a common way to start working from home and stay with your current employer. This offers more job security than becoming a freelancer and is an excellent way to ensure that your income stays predictable. This level of security is uncommon when it comes to working from home compared to starting up on your own, and is an excellent way to get more freedom and flexibility while working from home.

So in this post, we’re going to take a look at some of the flexible working regulations and how you can get started working from home.

Applying for Flexible Working Arrangements With Your Employer

If you’ve been with your workplace for over 26 weeks, you have the legal right to propose the idea to your employer. While they aren’t obliged to accept it under any circumstances, they do have to consider it seriously and show that they’ve looked at the possibilities. You can create a more convincing case if you have a reason for doing so, such as stressing to them the advantages of flexible working in terms of the benefits to the business.

While 26 weeks seems like a rather short period of time, it has a higher chance of being successful if you can show that you’re reliable and trustworthy. For instance, if you’re consistently late for work or are behind schedule, then your employer may not trust that you can manage your workload at home or remotely away from the office. However, if you’ve been a model employee and have legitimate reasons for requesting a flexible working arrangement, such as a long commute or family commitments, then it can be possible to arrange something with your employer.

When applying for a flexible working arrangement, it’s important to understand what flexible working regulations can do for you. For example, you’ll likely be given equipment to work from at home but you may not be allowed to use these for personal use or else you may liable for any damages and repair costs. In addition, you’ll be subjected to a health and safety assessment to ensure that your remote workplace meets your employer’s standards. This can include having access to an appropriate table height adjustable chair and keeping an eye on the amount of time you spend in front of a computer screen.

If your employer does not have an established flexible working policy, you could use some of the resources on this website for guidance, such as this example flexible working application form. LINK TO www.flexible-working.org/are-you-an-employee/a-practical-toolkit/example-application-form/

Once you’ve spoken to your employer and agreed on a flexible working arrangement that fits your needs, you can then move on to conditions such as how many hours you’ll work from home, what your employer will provide for you and any insurance implications as a result of working from home.

What Will My Employer Provide?

Employers may provide you with different things based on your flexible working agreement. For instance, some employers may offer you wireless-enabled devices such as laptops and smartphones to work from, while others may expect you to use VPN software on your own laptop instead.

In some cases, an employer may help pay a portion of your bills if you are working from home for the majority of your hours. This will often be a small percentage based on how long you work at home and how much rent or utility you pay during the period that you are working. Exact calculations will be worked out when you plan your flexible working agreement. But you should  consider seeking advice if your employer is paying a contribution towards a home office in your own home, as this may, for example, impact on capital gains tax.

The Challenges of Working From Home

Working from home comes with a unique set of challenges that differs from a typical office environment. Here are the biggest issues you’ll face and how to deal with them effectively:

  • Finding a suitable workplace – You might find that it’s difficult to pick a quiet and comfortable location to work from. Many people assume that working from home means using a laptop on the dining table or working in your pyjamas in bed, but the reality is that you need to set up a location (such as a garden office or a study) and consider it your workplace. If you’re a mobile employee that meets with clients or has to visit different locations throughout the day, then this may not apply to you.
  • Having enough motivation – Motivation is also another huge concern when it comes to working from home as you won’t have colleagues to speak to or a manager to consult when there are issues. You can do this over internet communication platforms, but it’s not always the same as speaking to someone and having them explain something in person.
  • Dealing with distractions – A lot of people underestimate just how frustrating distractions can be when it comes to working from home. For example, if you’re considering working from home because you have family commitments, then it’s important to understand that you might get distracted by those commitments and fail to get your work done as planned. This is why it’s important to find a suitable workplace so that you can focus on your tasks.
  • Coping with the isolation – The social aspect of working from home can be more challenging for some people, especially if you don’t have much contact with your colleagues. This is something that can take a bit of time to get used to, but many at-home workers find it difficult to shake off the feeling of isolation for good. One good tip – plan visits to your employer and make the most of your time there with the wider team.

As you can see, there are many concerns and challenges when it comes to working from home and everyone has their own way to deal with it. In most cases, it will take some trial and error to iron out the problems so that you can fit comfortably into your role as an at-home worker. But when these are ironed out, you will almost certainly become more productive and enjoy better job satisfaction, benefitting both you and your employer.