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Reimaging remote work for SMEs

A new set of principles to improve the lives of employees working from home and enhance productivity has been launched by the University of Central Lancashire and regional partners.

Small and medium sized business across the north of England are being encouraged to embrace new remote working principles to ensure staff working remotely receive the same support and development opportunities and are not disadvantaged by working from home. Six remote working principles have been developed from research into Covid-19 on SMEs, they are designed to support SMEs, health and wellbeing and productivity.

With over half of jobs in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humber region working in typically office based environments and now being asked to work from home, there is a significant lack of good home working practices for the four million northern remote workers

Recent studies have shown around three quarters of directors expect home working to continue after the pandemic, although staff’s mental health wellbeing and interaction with employees are cited as the most worrying challenges from the shift away from the office.

A new set of principles, created by the University of Central Lancashire alongside regional partners involves six key remote working principles for employers to embrace to in order to improve productivity, opportunities and the health and wellbeing on staff working from home.

The principles ask employers to:

  1. Understand Flexibility to consider employees’ needs to achieve secure, sustainable and productive work wherever possible.
  2. Support Skills Development and Training to focus on development and progression for the whole workforce.
  3. Create a platform to understand the Employee Voice and create an inclusive work environment to ensure minority voices are heard.
  4. Foster social Relationships between co-workers to enhance the informal dialogue across the organisation.
  5. Be aware of Digital Presenteeism and Work intensification to improve work- life balance.
  6. Support Physical and Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Dr Adrian Wright, Director of the Institute of Research into Organisations, Work and Employment at the University of Central Lancashire, said: “Enforced homeworking due to Covid-19 has now become the status quo, and will inevitably continue beyond the pandemic.

“It is crucial that businesses maintain the trust and commitment of employees in order to face the inevitable challenges ahead. Attention must be paid to core principles such as secure, well paid work and staff development and progression which gives employees financial security in these uncertain times.

Professor Sue Smith, Director of the Centre of SME Development at the University of Central Lancashire said: “These principles will act as guide to help organisations respond to the ongoing challenges while being productive and supporting employees’ wellbeing.”

The University of Central Lancashire is providing businesses across Lancashire with a range of support to bounce back stronger through its range of Business at UCLan support programmes and packages.

In addition to using University research to expand, the service also offers expert advice on reducing energy bills, bring new products to market, accessing marketing support or networking with other similar companies.