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AIBU to expect people working from home to actually work?

(209 Posts)
MelbourneWay Tue 31-Mar-20 21:08:30

I'm the manager of a small company in an essential sector operating from a number of sites. Most staff can't work from home, but trying to minimise social contact we allowed half the office to work from home. The result is that the staff working from home are doing very little work (we can tell when they log on) and the staff still left in the office are having to work harder than usual to keep up. I appreciate that most people in country are furloughed, but how do I get the staff working from home to actually do the job they are employed to do without appearing to be an evil employer?

BelfryBat Tue 31-Mar-20 21:11:29

You have to make sure they know you will be checking up on them. I've worked from home and my manager could see when I was online.

If need be, you will have to be the evil employer! TBF, if people are not used to working from home, it takes a bit of getting into, so maybe you could approach it that way?

BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Tue 31-Mar-20 21:13:59

Errr....you need to manage them.

Get a group Teams set up, have them all drop in with a hello or a morning when they log on so you know they are available.

Assign tasks - or designate that to someone - who will dish out work to employees regardless of where they are working.

Ask staff to drop back onto Teams to "clock out" and Say goodbye when they are finishing.

Chattercino Tue 31-Mar-20 21:14:19

Are the people who are WFH also trying to homeschool their children? It's not easy.

FfsCorona Tue 31-Mar-20 21:14:32

It’s harder than you think. I’m working from home but also have two children, one with SEN to look after and educate, that means I can’t always be ‘on’ but I’m trying my very best. I’m sure others are in the same position.

RedPanda2 Tue 31-Mar-20 21:15:55

Enforced working from home is actually not very nice and a massive adjustment if you're not used to it. I've gone from being very productive to semi productive as I adjust to it. I don't have a good chair so i have to get up and walk around a lot or a back injury gives me pain, I don't have someone immediate to bounce ideas off and feel quite shut off. Luckily my organisation has given it thought and advised on ideas to help. Maybe you should do that, as you are a manager. It's your job to ensure their wellbeing.

Floralnomad Tue 31-Mar-20 21:17:20

It’s irrelevant whether they are looking after children , the company is paying them to work so they need to be working , if they can’t do both then they need to work in the evening when the children are entertaining themselves or in bed .

RedPanda2 Tue 31-Mar-20 21:20:07

@BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz really good idea

GrumpyHoonMain Tue 31-Mar-20 21:21:25

Contact the worst 2 individuals and tell them work from home isn’t working and give them the data to back you up (eg log in times). Let the 2 best people who are in the office work from home. Then set up morning 15 minute catch up team meetings on Zoom etc at 9am and 5pm for everyone to discuss progress of work.

HugeAckmansWife Tue 31-Mar-20 21:21:27

floral it really isn't that simple. I was working (teacher) remotely whilst trying to home school my two tweens last week. One laptop between 3 for a start... Every set up is different and this current situation should not be used as a, reason to be against greater wgh in future. When kids are at school, the game changes completey. Working after 8pm wouldn't work in my instance as I'm meant to be online chat at the time my classes are on.

mrsm43s Tue 31-Mar-20 21:22:29

In normal circumstances, I think that WfH workers should absolutely be expected to do the same as W in Office workers (and usually do more).

However, these are difficult times for everyone. A good employer would cut employees who are having to look after children at home as well as do their job a bit of slack.

Imissthebeach Tue 31-Mar-20 21:22:32

The risk is that they’ll just start leaving their laptops logged in but won’t be working (if they know you know when they’re logging in / out etc)

Is there a way you can give them a quota of work to do that’s tangible? For the whole team to see? Visible kpi? Targets?

I’m a manager and I have been doing daily 1:1s every morning at 9am. And a catch up with my small team every afternoon at 5pm....it is working & we have a notorious slacker!

maddy68 Tue 31-Mar-20 21:22:53

There are three of us working from home and not one of us has even taken a break today I think we are way more productive here than we are at work

GrumpyHoonMain Tue 31-Mar-20 21:22:55

Once the two worst people are back in the office set up ground rules for work from home. Eg catch up meetings, emails end of day to detail progress and handover of work, highlights, lowlights etc

Poptart4 Tue 31-Mar-20 21:22:56

Grow a back bone op.

I know that sounds harsh but your the boss, act like it. Sometimes being the boss means being the bad guy and not everyone is going to like you.

If your staff aren't working pull them up on it. It's not fair on the poor sods stuck in the office doing everything.

Imissthebeach Tue 31-Mar-20 21:24:00

But I did catch the fucker out when he lied about a power cut and I checked the Western Power map!! grin

OoohTheStatsDontLie Tue 31-Mar-20 21:24:31

What is your company line on working from home when you have young children? Trying to work and look after say 3 under 5 just isnt going to happen. My company for example have said they know we're not going to get our normal hours in, and if we think we can't do any work then they will come to an arrangement with us. But if we can be flexible and do what we can when we can then they will pay us. We have a 2 and a 4 year old and ita hard to so anything when looking after them, but my husband is wfh as well and we are both managing to get around 5 hours in a day and our works are, so far, happy with that.

So I dont think having children at home is irrelevant unless your company stance is 'work yourself into the ground looking after kids 12 hours a day, do 7 hours work, and try and fit in a couple of hours sleep'.

Anyway how do you measure productivity or manage workflow in the office? Surely it's more than whether their bum is on their seat? Cant you just tweak it so you can do the same remotely?

OoohTheStatsDontLie Tue 31-Mar-20 21:25:22

And if targets arent met, you need to manage that. Have you asked them why they havent been logging on til late etc?

maddy68 Tue 31-Mar-20 21:25:45

Presumably you're checking in with them at key points etc. I'm sorry but you do seen a weak manager

ChainsawBear Tue 31-Mar-20 21:28:31

It’s irrelevant whether they are looking after children , the company is paying them to work so they need to be working , if they can’t do both then they need to work in the evening when the children are entertaining themselves or in bed

Oh yeah, right, it's totes easy to sit down at 8pm and knock out a full day's work! Their kids will totally vapourise and cease having needs between 9 and 5, because the company's paying them to work!

Clearly you don't understand humanity, only numbers, so I'll make this very easy. It'll cost you more in the long run to pinch the pennies and expect people to act like robots in an extraordinary and unprecedented situation. The key to managing remotely and in difficult circumstances is to respect people's humanity and manage by outputs, not hours. If the only way you can think to manage them is by monitoring their clocking on and off, you are a bad manager and need to go and upskill yourself.

MelbourneWay Tue 31-Mar-20 21:30:23

Thanks for the replies. Part of the problem is that we are not a paperless office. Whilst we get some invoices by email, most are in paper format. We have not yet worked out a satisfactory way to get the paper invoices to the homeworkers. The second issue is they all took a lot of paperwork home with them but we do not know what they have done and what is still to do. In the meantime we get suppliers phoning up chasing for payment and we have invoices "missing" so we can't agree the amounts to be paid next month.

FredaFox Tue 31-Mar-20 21:32:43

It’s so annoying when you are working non stop and doing extra unpaid hours without breaks yet you know others are taking the mick.
Maybe those not managing to work and care for children during the day can reduce their hours, it’s not right they are paid for a full day and not working it or they work early or late avoiding times they need to be with kids. We will see a lot of staff losses in the coming months.
It’s all give and take at the minute, in 6 months time who knows the impact on the job market and economy

NoIDontWatchLoveIsland Tue 31-Mar-20 21:32:51

What are you expecting of them? A friend normally works hours well in excess of contract in the office. Shes now wfh with her DH, between them juggling care of their 22m old. She's getting in about 6 hours solid work a day and needs to do that flexibly - v possible in her job because they deal with US clients so she can catch up in evenings. Her immediate line manager is being an utter arsehole because she can't be constantly available from 8am to 6pm. Luckily the boss above is overriding and being realistic. There is no childcare, everyone is taking the hit.

EUnamechange Tue 31-Mar-20 21:33:28

You need to manage them, set tasks, check in, meetings etc! But first check in with them all individually to see what their particular circumstances are.

- If they have children at home, particularly primary or nursery age, then you need to cut them some slack. I'm homeschooling young children whilst doing my job and it's a fucking nightmare. It's effectively 2 jobs now, on top of all the extra difficulties like finding food etc. Luckily we have a considerate employer who understands that people working and home-schooling will be really struggling.

- If they are caring for sick family, or vulnerable family, then again you need to cut them some slack.

- Do they have decent working environments? Have you checked they have all the equipment they need, have you checked whether they have somewhere to work in peace or are they in a flat share trying to work on their bed, or in the corridor, or the garden shed. All will affect ability to work.

I'm in an organisation where many of us wfh anyway, watching the teething problems as the half org gets to grips with it. You need, especially at the moment with anxiety so high, to have weekly team meetings online, and many people are also doing daily morning or afternoon round ups, just for 10 minutes while everyone says how they are doing coping, and any work issues. Be understanding that those caring for sick or children may not be able to attend every one.

@Floralnomad that's just a completely impractical and even cruel approach at the moment. DH and I are wfh and home-schooling children, sharing it between us. We are working our arses off, but exhausted and worried about what will happen if we catch covid, because we are at our absolute limit and starting to get ill. Luckily both our organisations are being understanding. Imagine being a single parent, or having a key worker partner who has to be away, getting up at 5am to fit in some work before children up, then teaching them and supervising them during the day, then feeding them and putting them to bed and doing all the shopping, waiting in queues for hours, laundry etc, and then starting to fit in their 7.5 hours work starting at about 8.30/9pm or so when the children are in bed and the essentials are done. Do you seriously think they can then work until 3am or so in the morning, sleep 2 hours, and back up at 5? Think about it for god's sake, and have some common humanity.

NoIDontWatchLoveIsland Tue 31-Mar-20 21:34:40

I can't believe you are still getting all your invoices paper only. Modernise.

For now - photo invoices & whatsapp them
Their can't be that many or you would have had to go paperless by now in order to run efficiently.

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