Keeping remote workers close

Julian cole portrait.

Julian Cole

Senior Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411


As a nation, we’ve grabbed the idea of ‘the new workplace’ and run with it, at full pelt. But, as hybrid working moves towards becoming the norm for many workers and businesses, is there a danger that the strict rules and processes that employers put in place at the start of Covid might be slipping?

The logistics enabling employees to work remotely for some or all of the working week are now largely in place. Businesses have supplied desks, chairs, computers, lockable cabinets and the like. They have agreed when, where and how the employee should work. Employees will have been reminded about their contractual obligations around performance, sick leave and holiday, for example. And risk assessments have been carried out, to ensure the working environment is a safe and secure one.

The question then is: to what extent have employers kept their eye on the ball?

It’s all very well setting things off on the right foot, but businesses need to make sure they continue to do the things that allow the arrangement to function at its very best. There may even be a chance that some informalities of homeworking, for example, could spill over into a more relaxed way of working and a more relaxed relationship between employee and employer. This is murky territory for businesses, and managers must keep on top of it.

And they must also take care to keep doing the small things, as well as the big. For all the benefits of remote working, physical distance between an employee and employer can make the simple matter of checking in with an employee less instinctive. But it’s so important, particularly where remote working is the full-time arrangement, rather than just a part of the working week (an employee’s physical presence in the office allows employers to more easily get a feel for how they are doing). Maintaining the right type and right level of communication - not too little, not too much - is vital if remote working is to be truly successful.

Because an employee’s experience may change over time. Those who perhaps threw themselves into remote working at first may find the novelty has worn off. They may now be struggling with isolation, lack of face-to-face contact with colleagues, or aspects of their role that need supervision or the involvement of others. They may be finding it difficult to switch off from work, or they may be under-performing. Managers need to be able to spot issues and know how to handle them, providing support and implementing change. And having clear and open lines of communication with employees really is key to this.

To speak to us about setting up or managing remote working, or about any other employment law issue, contact us on 01264 353411 or email

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