Keep your team productive by setting up clear work-from-home policies.
Employees around the world have been forced to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And the trend of working from home doesn’t seem like it would be going away any time soon.
Working remotely does have its benefits. It gives your employees flexibility and can boost productivity, causing remote workers to work up to 1.4 more days each month compared to traditional office workers.
That said, working from home may present new challenges to your employees. Hence, you would need to provide guidance to them by establishing clear work-from-home policies. To learn more about vital information you should include in your policies, read on below.
What Is a Work-From-Home Policy?
A work-from-home policy is a set of guidelines that your company outlines. These guidelines are meant to lay down rules on how employees can work remotely, rather than coming into the office every working day.
Of course, there are some jobs that you won’t be able to perform properly from home. But many office jobs can be completed successfully in the comfort of one’s home.
Why Have a Remote Work Policy?
Defining clear rules, policies, and procedures will help you keep your employees on track and make the transition from office work to remote work smoother and more seamless.
A work-from-home policy can help you set expectations for employees, so they will not be left wondering what kind of duties they need to fulfill remotely. Having a comprehensive set of rules will help your workers feel prepared and motivated to work from home.
As mentioned, you can set clear expectations for what your employees need to do. This includes how many hours you want your employees to spend working. Setting expectations as you allow remote work can boost productivity. In fact, a study by Stanford University found that working from home can increase productivity by up to 13%.
What Should Be in a Work-From-Home Policy?
You can add or remove elements to your work-from-home policy depending on your company’s needs and current situation while keeping the essential points. Here are some of them below.
First, you need to decide who exactly gets to work from home. State the eligible roles and positions clearly in your policy.
For example, in the education sector, non-teaching staff may be eligible to conduct their administrative roles from home. They may work remotely with ease if the school’s database is accessible via any internet network.
If your company does not have any jobs that can be conducted remotely, be sure to say that clearly in the relevant documents, such as your employee handbook. Being clear about who does and does not get to work from home will cut unnecessary requests from employees about remote work.
It would also be wise to put in place a specific rule on response time. This rule will help employees work together, especially when prompt responses are an integral part of your work. Define whether employees are expected to respond at once and state through which channels your team will communicate.
For example, in the transportation industry, a taxi dispatcher who receives requests from potential riders/customers via phone calls should quickly respond and connect an available driver to the rider.
3. Productivity Measurements
Another thing you should specify in your policy is how you will be measuring your employee’s productivity. You can measure productivity in many ways, but it is best to choose an objective and quantitative metric.
A few examples of metrics that you may consider are the number of cases an employee solves, how much time an employee spends on a project, and more. In the BPO industry, an employee’s productivity can be measured based on how many cases the employee managed that resulted in a positive outcome for the company.
4. Work Equipment
Your employees cannot work if they do not have the right equipment. In your office, your company supplies the computers that your employees use. But things might change in the context of remote work.
You should be clear about equipment in your policy. State who provides and buys the equipment, sets it up, and handles it, should the equipment need any repairs.
Aside from the acquisition of equipment, be clear about how you want your employees to use their equipment. If you supplied new laptops for your employees, will you allow them to install personal software?
For companies that are heavily involved in graphic design, employees will require high-end computers and the appropriate software to carry out their day-to-day tasks effectively. Therefore, your policy must state the terms regarding the acquisition of equipment.
5. Tech Support
This point goes together with the preceding one. Besides discussing equipment in your policy, you should also specify whether your company will offer tech support to remote workers. Most companies have in-house IT experts, but things tend to get complicated with remote tech support.
Be clear in the policy when you state the procedure that you expect employees to follow when they have technical difficulties. In other words, state the standard operating procedure.
From the graphic designer example in the previous point, graphic designers cannot be without their equipment for prolonged periods. Hence, you may consider stating in your policy contact persons that employees can readily reach out to, should they require tech support.
Security should be one of your top considerations when it comes to remote work. Most large companies work on secure networks, but when employees work on their networks, security isn’t guaranteed.
If your employees work with sensitive information and you do not want them to access this information on public Wi-Fi, you should clearly state this in your policy.
It is of utmost importance for companies in the banking and finance industry to keep sensitive information secure. Therefore, you may consider stating in your policy that certain information can be accessed on any network, while other data must be accessed on secure networks. Alternatively, you may also state in your policy which employees have access to particular sensitive information.
Remote employees will save on gasoline and other commuting expenses, but they will have to pay higher fees at home, including the bills for their phone, internet, electricity, and other utilities. All the extra costs of working from home may cancel out what they saved by not traveling to the office.
If your company chooses to do so, you may stipulate in your policy the rules on employee allowance or the regulations on a reimbursement system for internet costs, equipment, etc.
If your company uses specialized software, you should supply these applications to your employees free of charge. Be sure to clarify all expenses your company will cover and the reimbursement limits.
Touching upon the previous example on taxi dispatchers in the transportation industry, a dispatcher would most likely need multiple mobile devices to accommodate calls and texts from potential riders. Thus, you may consider stating in your policy that your company will subsidize a certain number of mobile devices per dispatcher, accompanied by payments for their mobile carrier services.
In summary, having a work-from-home policy helps your company support your employees and keep them productive when working remotely. Furthermore, it helps employees manage their work-life balance, thus keeping them more productive overall.
By following the guidelines we’ve listed above, you would be on your way to building a policy that shows your employees that you are empathetic as an employer and you care about results at the same time.
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Bochenski, M. (n.d.). Remote working policies: tips from the experts. Workplace by Facebook. https://www.workplace.com/blog/remote-working-policies
Spencer, A., & Spencer, A. (2020, April 14). Creating a Work-from-Home Policy Tailored to Your Organization. BizLibrary. https://www.bizlibrary.com/blog/workforce-management/work-from-home-policy/