Tag Archive for: HR Coronavirus advice NI

How to Manage Your Staff Remotely

Fresh concerns and restrictions over the spread of Covid-19 may mean that you now manage more staff remotely again. Even with some office-based work, most managers will still be working virtually with many of their team.

In our experience, many offices are working on a hybrid basis. This involves staff spending a day or two in the office and the rest of the time at home. This reduces the amount of interaction but also removes the feeling of being isolated. In addition, it allows for those essential team meet-ups to discuss key work duties. And, it enables teams to have those face to face chats that are difficult or not as effective virtually.


Whatever formula you are using, you still need to brush up your remote management skills.  Consult HR are here to help you out with a quick look at some of the key areas and some tips for making things easier and more effective.


Communicating with Your Remote Staff Team

Online meetings and communication are crucial to the success of managing a remote working team. You should stick to normal meeting routines, such as daily or weekly team meetings. Just switch to online platforms like Zoom instead of face to face. You may feel all Zoomed out, but the platform’s popularity means people are familiar with its use.

If you need more specialised or secure platforms, research the best options for you and your business.  But don’t forget, everyone needs to be able to access it and use it. Team members may have

If you were in the habit of one-to-one discussions with individual team members, keep this up too. Use video calls or phone calls in preference to email, text or online chat for these kinds of chat.

If you need an open platform for team chats, then make sure to agree a platform that suits everyone. For example, WhatsApp is popular but it can be easy to miss key messages if you are in too many chat groups. Consult and agree the best choice for your team.

But also try to avoid communication overload too as this can be a real drain on team energy. This may mean putting limits on chats, out of hours emails or texts, encouraging people to use meetings more effectively and using online project tools (see below).


Tools and Equipment for Staff Working Remotely

Make sure staff have access to the equipment they need to work remotely. They may need a better laptop or office chair.  There may be IT or security issues with accessing central data. Talk to them to find out what they need to work better from home.

Tools like Trello and Asana can help with team project work. Find out more about top online tools here.

Measuring Staff Activity & Productivity

Don’t automatically assume your staff need to be under your eye to work effectively and productively. Some of your team may enjoy the flexibility that remote working offers and this can enhance productivity.

Some staff may need this flexibility if there are small children at home. For example, they may prefer to start work earlier and work in the evenings. Work around this if you can and where it works for your team and business. If there are limits to the flexibility you can offer, then negotiate an agreement that will work for the team.

Use meetings to get feedback on how work is progressing. You can also use tools from Excel sheets to Trello boards to monitor tasks and progress. If you feel someone is not pulling their weight, don’t let it slide. Have a one-to-one chat and express your concerns. If there is an ongoing performance problem, then you may need to use disciplinary procedures. But make sure to get HR advice to ensure you comply with the regulations.

remote-working-Brian Wangenheim-unsplash-photo-1588346986082-dbadd9babce0

Mind Mental Health

Remember the obvious – we’re all in the middle of a crisis with the Covid pandemic. You need to be mindful of your own mental health and your team’s. You or any of your team may have serious concerns about older relatives, vulnerable children, or loved ones with immune problems or who are ill.  Some may be dealing with bereavement or isolation.

A team that works well together remotely can also be a supportive team, for you and for them.

For information or advice on managing staff remotely, Contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email julie@consulthr.co.uk.

Visit our website here: www.consulthr.co.uk


Life after lockdown: How to bring employees back to work from furlough

The Northern Ireland Executive recently revealed its five-step plan for easing lockdown. While no guidance has been offered on when exactly each step will be introduced, the general consensus is that there will be a gentle easing of the lockdown rules. In fact, some businesses are already re-opening, albeit with strict plans in place, which means that employees will need to be brought back to work from furlough.

This is new territory for everyone so unsurprisingly, how to do this correctly can cause some confusion. Therefore, Consult HR’s Julie Pollock shares her simple steps on how to un-furlough employees.

Before employees return to work

Understandably, not everyone will be able to return to work right away. It will be weeks before some sectors are able to reopen their doors to staff but thinking about how you will manage people when the time comes will help make the process more straightforward. There are a few factors that you definitely need to consider and decisions will need to be made. The earlier you can do this, the quicker you will be able to get your business up and running again, when it is safe to do so.

With this in mind, it is vital that you consider the following:

  • Who will return and when? If a phased return is granted, how will you introduce this? It is worth noting that if an employee is furloughed, this must be for a minimum of three-weeks in order to claim payment.
  • Will the operations of your business be permanently affected because of coronavirus? If so, you may need to consider job roles and how these can be changed in line with new operations.
  • How will restrictions impact on workload? Will there be too little work for everyone? If so, a workforce restructure or indeed redundancies may need reviewing.
  • Is your workplace safe for employees? You should only allow staff to return to work if you can confidently answer yes to this question. Putting your employees at risk is not an option.
  • Is remote working a possibility, or can employees work in staggered shifts in order to comply with social distancing regulations?

Only after careful consideration of these points should you question whether you should un-furlough employees.

Bringing employees back from furlough

It isn’t surprising that after weeks in isolation, employees may be feeling apprehensive about returning to work. While you might be keen to get things up and running again, not everyone will share this same sentiment and concerns around health and safety will undoubtedly arise.

The easiest way to address these fears is to communicate effectively. Let employees know your plans, the results of your risk assessments and the steps you are taking to ensure their safety. Remember, employees are probably craving a sense of normality too but not at the expense of their health so reassuring them that you are taking all the necessary steps for their wellbeing will be welcomed.

Furthermore, it is strongly advised to give employees notice, in writing, detailing their return to work. This will afford them time to mentally and physically prepare for any change in circumstances and address any issues with you.

For example, if schools and childcare facilities have not fully reopened, returning to a regular 9-5 on-site working schedule might not be possible. In this instance, consider whether flexible or remote working is an option. Being mindful of everyone’s individual circumstances well in advance of your business opening again will afford you plenty of time to prepare and restructure if necessary.

Life after lockdown  

At Consult HR, we have already assisted clients in un-furloughing employees with essential roles and those who can work remotely. If you require further support with the Coronavirus please feel free to contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email julie@consulthr.co.uk. Visit our website here: www.consulthr.co.uk