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Unions 21
| Blog post

How to make union working from home, work

By Becky Wright, Executive Director Unions 21 | 4 min

Just before you read this blog we wanted to highlight our Webinar on the 16th of April at 10am all about working remotely, managing a remote team and working from home for unions, just click here to register and get your place!

For some unions, the government guidelines have asked them to think about home working on a large scale, possibly for the very first time. So I wanted to share some ideas on how to handle home working, both as a staff member and manager.

In 2007, I had my first working from home position as a Learning Organiser. Excited to have a reduced commute, I set up a space at home and got cracking. And, broadly, for me it was a positive experience. Yet, as the novelty wore off, the reality of being on your own for most of the day kicked in. And while we went into workplaces, talking to reps and members, it was easy to miss the everyday routine of seeing the same colleagues , making cups of tea for each other and talking through work ideas.

Some three years after my first home working experience, in 2010, I ended up managing a staff member who rarely came into the office due to his location.. And fast forward to 2020, here, at Unions 21, the team and I work remotely, only coming together every now and then.

This is by no means an exhaustive or perfect list. Indeed, see this as more to give food for thought about how to manage things while we’re working away from our normal parameters of work.

If you’re working from home:

Try to separate work from home. You might want to try and take a break and wipe the kitchen tops down but finish the work thing first. Give yourself breaks and use that time as you would in the office, have a cup of tea, have your lunch, drop your work colleague a line to chat about a non-work issue.

Chat to colleagues. Whether through your messaging system, phone,or video call. Don’t let time go by without speaking to work colleagues about what you’re working on - although perhaps save the distraction of your latest Netflix indulgence for your breaks!

Exercise. I’m no gym fiend but a small walk around the block does the world of good - bearing in mind safe spacing.

Keep to a routine. Start work at the same time, have your lunch at the same time, end at the same time.

Dress not far away as you would for the office. It helps in that separation between work and home.

If you’re managing colleagues who work from home

Trust them. Set clear expectations with them about what they need to achieve in the day, week or month. Work to those outcomes, not to the time you think it should take.

Contact them. You might want to initiate a regular slot at the start of the day and/or at the end of the day, to see how they’ve been. Obviously not everyone works 9 to 5, so find a time which works. If you can’t set up regular slots, then message them just to see how they are. Everyone likes to be managed differently and so you go with what works for your team members. If they call or message, try and ensure you pick up or at least acknowledge their call and say when you’re free.

Meetings, are they necessary? Are your meetings opportunities to broadcast your thoughts, or a genuine get together and exploration of work? If it’s the former, then can it be done via a better channel than an online meeting platform?

Get the tech right. There are so many options to work from home with meeting platforms and messaging systems. Ideally, we would have identified the platforms we need previous to a problem like this but, just in case, don’t drive straight into the first one. Work out what you need (ask staff, especially if they’re already remote) and trial a few options.

As I said before, this isn’t an exhaustive or perfect list so have you got any examples of best practice in your union? Share with us via twitter!

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