The Work-From-Home Policy: 5 Things To Keep In Mind
Every WFH policy is different. In order to find out if any loopholes exist in your WFH policy, you must first build one that suits your company’s needs and exercise it bit by bit without waiting for disastrous situations that hamper employment, health, and the economy.
The COVID-19 situation that we have on our hands right now has many companies asking employees to work remotely. The work-from-home policy is not a new trend that has suddenly sprung into action as an aftermath of a disaster such as novel coronavirus.
And the popular belief that WFH employees aren’t as productive as office-goers is a thing of the past. As a matter of fact, studies and research has time and again proved that WFH or telecommuting employees are more productive. Not only that, but they also say that telecommuters have higher levels of job satisfaction as compared to their counterparts as they’re able to work from environments in which they feel comfortable and relaxed.
Another reason for job satisfaction — with higher productivity levels as a byproduct of the same — is that WFH employees can bypass commuting to offices which is a stressful ordeal for anyone, especially in India where people are stuck in traffic on the way to their workplaces.
That said, in the current predicament, WFH is a win-win situation for both the employer and employees. But as the employer, you must consider a few things before building or exercising your WFH policy.
Here are 5 such pointers to keep in mind when you offer employees the flexibility to work from home.
- Is the job role fit for telecommuting?
This is where you find out if the duties assigned to the employee can be executed remotely. Does the job role require the individual to work with different departments? Furthermore, the employer needs to know if the responsibilities require a hands-on approach.
If so, the job role might not be best for telecommuting. However, do keep in mind that ruling out WFH for scenarios where an employee has to switch between different teams from the get-go will hinge on the strategies that you have put in place to enhance communication and collaboration. For instance, for a group of employees who are working on a project, you will need to have the right tools for project management and communication.
- Are they well equipped to execute their tasks?
Flawless remote work demands access to all tools and equipment anytime, anywhere. This is what you need to ensure before you proceed with exercising your WFH policy.
There is yet another decision that you have to make — will you be the one providing the employee with the equipment? If the answer here is yes, then you need a policy on the usage and maintenance of the equipment and tools. You might have to provide resources and guidelines for the upkeep of the equipment and even establish the ground rules for its usage only for the work purposes and nothing else.
If this seems too much of a daunting task for you to execute, you can have a team in place that can take of this. For instance, for a designer who needs to work with the Adobe Suite, your team can provide all the support in case they run face any issues. Moreover, they can ensure that they have the latest version of the tool installed on their system.
On the other hand, if the employee is to use his/her equipment, you need to ensure that they’re secure to thwart any unauthorised access, usage, and alteration of sensitive information and data.
- How can you track their progress and enhance communication?
Telecommuting or not, tasks need to be executed. For this to happen without any or minimum hurdles, communication channels must be transparent, open, and two-way between the telecommuting employees and the employer.
Since the nature of the work is remote, all employees (working individually or in teams) must report in with the status of the tasks that their performing. And this includes you as well as communication is a two-way street, for it to work and for your employees to understand its importance you must keep them in the loop. In other words, the communication between you and the employees removes misunderstandings and emphasizes the high-priority tasks.
And to make this work, you must let all WFH employees know the tools and platforms for communication. Zone in on one common platform that is integrated with your mailing tools. For example, you can choose hangouts as it is free, integrated on Gmail, and robust, in the sense that information, files, and data related to any project/task can be conveniently shared across multiple devices, regardless of the make or build.
That said, do not put all your eggs in one basket. Make it a point to let your employees working-from-home know that other forms of communication channels, such as — primary and alternate — phone numbers, email addresses must be provided if in case there are emergencies or the (chosen) communication platform fails.
As for the project management, let them know to send status reports of what has been achieved and what comes next (and when) at the end of each day. This way you get a clear understanding of your employees’ pace, and also get to know if they have run into any stumbling blocks that require your assistance.
- How do you ensure that they’re looked after?
By ‘’looked after’’ we mean having policies in place to take care of matters related to their insurance policies, taxes, salaries and the like.
For instance, an employer might have a home insurance policy in place for employees who are working from their homes. This insurance covers a segment of the home as an office, depending on the nature of the work and the equipment being used.
Similarly, you need to have certain mechanisms in place for tax calculations, deductions, salary deposits etc., for the employees so that they can reach out and clear their doubts. If you don’t pay heed to this, they will only serve as distractions for telecommuting employees.
- How to ethically let go of employees?
Here’s hoping that you never have to go through this phase. But having a policy for the termination of an employee will never hurt you. The terms of termination, or firing an employee, must be included in your WFH policy, which will work as a safety net whenever you need to fire a telecommuter.
And what will be these terms? Well, that is for you to decide. An example would be breaching your data privacy laws. The same terms will also have other clauses, such as the return of the office equipment (property), removing access to company information and so on.
Every WFH policy is different. You must carefully work on a WFH policy that suits your company’s needs and exercise it bit by it without waiting for disastrous situations like COVID-19 in order to find out if any loopholes exist.
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