28 January 2013
At the tail end of last year, a study by Virgin Media
Business suggested that, within a decade, around 60% of us will be
‘regularly’ working from home.
If you’re based in London and you weren’t ‘agile’ working before
the Olympic Games then chances are you’ve tried it out by now. But
is the ‘extended workplace’ a safe environment in which to work? A
property company’s ‘duty of care’ is not limited to the office, and
as trains, cafés and the home have become extended working places,
what advice do we give people to ensure that they are working
1) Have you reminded them that they need to work
For companies where ‘health and safety’ is
an intrinsic part of their business (such as those in the utility
and industrial sector) there will be reams of information on the
hazards of the workplace.
For many in our industry, however, there can often be little
more than the ubiquitous ‘Health and Safety Law’ wall chart and a
scrawled note to “Watch the wires” near the kettle. As our staff
spend less time in the office than ever before, this link becomes
ever more tenuous so it is important that they are reminded of the
standard practices and guidelines for things such as working with
digital screens, visiting development sites etc.
2) Have you informed them about
They key point here is that the agile
worker is not tied to their home. They can work from a coffee shop,
the train and even the local library. It’s not a case of simply
keeping an eye on their belongings etc but simple tricks like
sitting with your back to a wall, or fitting a screen filter to
prevent people seeing your laptop screen.
3) Have you informed them about personal
When we’re in an office, people are usually
aware of our movements. When you’re working out of the office then
it is vital that staff have a check-in system to let people know
what their movements are - especially if it’s an asset in a risky
neighbourhood or a new property development under construction.
4) Have you given them tips on data
We all do it. Work from home, keep our
files on the laptop and never transfer them to the company server
or a back-up system. Also, think about encryption and tablet
tracking/file deletion software should the worst happen and
sensitive rental information goes awol.
5) Are they looking after their personal
In the office you can tell who is working too
hard, who is exhausted etc but with the flexible worker this is
much harder to ascertain. A manager should be asking if someone
really needs to be emailing people yield figures at 2am.
People need to want to work
differently, but managers need to also manage differently; being
prepared to let go, trust and move from managing by ‘presenteeism’
to managing by outputs. In return, the agile worker will be more
productive and happier.
Jones is a Director with Capita Symonds’
Property & Workplace Consulting team