In today’s business world, we need to have work-from-home policies designed to ensure efficient, productive and safe workplaces.
We are in the age of working from home. Smart phones, laptops, apps, and Wi-Fi in every location mean office workers can get their jobs done almost anywhere. Employees also increasingly expect that they can do their jobs where they want to go, whether it’s in a coffee shop, traveling abroad, or sitting on their couch. And employee expectations can harden in politics.
A critical part of this modern movement for any business considering remote office work is creating a work-from-home policy.
Establishing the right expectations, platforms and support systems will not only make working from home easier, but will also help avoid the many dangers that can arise when employees work outside the office. With good planning and communication strategies, employees will be as happy and productive at home as they are in the office.
Things to include in your telecommuting policy
1. Determine who is able to work remotely.
Clearly define which teams can work remotely and which must be in the office. Make sure your hybrid working model is readily available for viewing.
2. Create an approval process.
Once you have established the eligibility criteria, you should clearly define the process and the staff involved in the approval. Employees need to know how to get permission to work from home as well as who approves the application and when to get approval.
3. Set regular working hours.
It is important to establish a work-from-home policy that clearly defines when employees are expected to work and when they are finished.
For employees who work hourly wages, keep in mind that federal non-exempt rules may apply. It is important for employees to understand that they are required to keep track of their hours. They must obtain the authorization of their manager to work overtime.
Provide timekeeping guidelines for hourly employees. Make sure hourly workers are able to accurately record their hours when working remotely.
4. Define presence and availability policies.
Sometimes you can feel like you’re still chasing people and reaching them through Slack, email, and text. Make the task less stressful by making rules about when team members working from home should be accessible.
5. Streamline the channels of communication.
For example, when your business uses both G-Chat and Slack, it’s best to ask employees to choose one or the other to reduce the level of inefficiency.
6. Clarify IT support expectations.
The most basic communication and work tasks require computers. Providing IT support is just as crucial… and logistically difficult when you have a workforce spread across the globe, especially if you are involved in remote integration. Make sure new hires, as well as your IT team, are able to communicate effectively with each other.
7. Establish a remote helpline for employees.
Make sure you set up a helpline and ticketing system specifically designed for remote employees. It can also be helpful to explain the steps employees need to take to escalate technical issues.
8. Define and apply rigorous security policies.
Observe the highest safety standards. You may want to purchase a secure virtual private network (VPN) to protect all users on your system.
Additionally, educate employees to stay away from vulnerable public Wi-Fi networks. Instead, encourage them to use hotspots or provide encryption software. You’ll also want to make sure that employees store work-related information on the work computer, not on personal computers. Most likely, that would mean that employees would only respond to emails from devices in the workplace.
9. Maintain daily operations.
Maintain internal communication programs that include meetings at all levels. Email newsletters and Slack updates should continue. Your bi-monthly or weekly newsletter should also continue whether or not the format changes.
10. Establish a dress code.
While wearing sweatshirts seems to be a boon for anyone in a work from home situation, employees may still need to interact with clients, clients, or coworkers via video conferencing. An explanation of what attire is acceptable in these circumstances is important.
11. Track timesheets and receipts.
Be aware that any home work situation is essentially a contract between the employer and the employee. It is subject to revocation in the event of non-compliance with the conditions. Use a digital electronic signature application such as DocuSign and PandaDoc to track employee receipts.
12. Get feedback.
Collect and discuss feedback to improve performance. Everything is unlikely to be perfect the first time. Establish ways to get feedback from managers and employees. The best comments are confidential.
Finally, whether you recognize it or not, implementing a telecommuting policy will require a change of direction. The goal may be to continue as before. However, to achieve this will require a broad acceptance of new behaviors. Use these suggestions to set standards for employees and to help ensure the success of your business.