Whereas in a previous post, we provided advice for household staffing during coronavirus, the focus of this article is strategies for telecommuting harmoniously alongside domestic employees. Whilst Covid-19 continues to impose intermittent lockdowns and curfews, many company directors, entrepreneurs, managers, and CEOs are opting to work remotely from their homes. The impact of this new reality upon employee relations with domestic staff can lead to tension if not handled with care.
The trust factor
Domestic workers have complete access to employers’ private spaces. Trust is implicit from the very beginning of the relationship. Prior to the global pandemic, house managers were used to running the household during prolonged absences of their principles. PAs would travel constantly with their employer and act as the point of contact when domestic decisions needed to be taken. With the decline of international travel, many employees find themselves working alongside colleagues in a new dynamic, whilst also believing themselves to be under constant scrutiny from bosses who used to take for granted that the job was being done properly. It is here that the trust factor becomes vital.
What are the building blocks of this trust? Firstly, an understanding of each other’s needs. The household employee knows the employer as a leader who has delegated certain responsibilities to them. The principle knows that their employee is capable of undertaking tasks without guidance or interference. It is up to the former not to feel intimidated by the constant presence of the latter due to increased home working patterns; it is up to the latter to continue caring for the professional integrity of the former, remaining aware of employee motivation and consequent job satisfaction.
Encouraging and embracing flexibility
Encouraging workplace flexibility may seem easy when being fostered by principles who own sprawling mansions or comfortable townhouses. However, during the pandemic, it is actually flexibility with schedules that is helping keep staff happy whilst co-working with their bosses. Furthermore, compensating staff for the extra effort of running the household smoothly during this atypical time often includes perks such as providing the employee with a car for personal as well as professional use, private healthcare packages and tax benefits. In households where employees’ roles overlap during periods of confinement, flexibility measures could include paying for skills training courses for individual team members to pursue career advancement whilst within current employment, leading to a win-win situation for all involved.
Respecting the workspace of your domestic staff
Anecdotes abound of private home chefs having to contend with principles helping themselves to items from the fridge without informing them. Although a seemingly trivial matter, this example gives an idea of how principles should be careful to respect the workspaces their employees create within the household. Cleaning routines may require altering if hoovering times interrupt video conference sessions or window cleaning interferes with private meetings. Bearing in mind that all these activities are desirable, professional house managers and PAs work closely to create a harmonious schedule that balances all factors.
If you seek a professional domestic employee for your household or estate, get in touch with us today to find out more. We listen, we care, and we deliver the desired results.