Working from home, or remote working, is a type of flexible working arrangement. Some employers will have existing policies that allow for remote working. If not, employees can make appropriate flexible working request. There are many different terms used to refer to homeworkers including agile workers or off-site workers and it is important that both parties are operating on the same basis of understanding when using different terms to describe working away from the traditional office or role environment.
Working at home, or remotely, can mean that employees have a better work-life balance, and in some circumstances it can also be a reasonable adjustment for employees with a disability (see our section on Disability Discrimination for more information). In addition, it can have a number of benefits for the business, including increased productivity, reduction in overhead costs, and employee retention. Equally there can be some drawbacks, such as damage to team culture, duplication of equipment, a loss of ability to manage and support remote workers.
In addition to the impact on the working environment, there are other factors that an employer must bear in mind, including:
- Carrying out an appropriate risk assessment to ensure that the homeworking environment is suitable;
- Making sure confidential information and personal data will be appropriately protected;
- Considering whether additional or specialist equipment is required and, if so, who will be responsible for providing it;
- Consider whether additional insurance is required or planning consent needed if the employee is to work from home;
- Make sure any tax consequences are understood.