Developing a work from home policy that works for your business
In the 2010 U.S. census, the number of workers who work primarily from home tripled in comparison to 1980.1 Thanks to the Internet, laptops, mobile devices, and remote access capabilities, working from home (WFH) has become an option for more workers. While there used to be concerns about how difficult it would be to supervise employees who WFH, more businesses are encouraging employees to work remotely for part or all of the workweek.
But before allowing your employees to WFH, it’s best to have a comprehensive policy. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:
- Can employees work efficiently without one-on-one supervision? There are plenty of distractions at the office – but there are even more distractions at home (kids, laundry, the dog), and all of your employees may not be able to tune these distractions out. Before awarding an employee the privilege of working remotely, you will need to factor in their ability to work unsupervised. Your HR team should be able to help structure a WFH policy that determines which positions are eligible and how long employees need to be at the company before this perk is offered. This privilege should tie into the performance review process as well.
- Can you provide your employees with the tools they need to WFH? Employees who work from home should not have to worry about being their own IT department and helpdesk. They need to be focused on the job you hired them to do. There are automated programs that handle critical tasks – like backups and updates; and remote support tools that let your IT team take care of technical problems, without requiring employees to waste their day problem-solving.
- Stay in touch: make sure “out of sight” isn’t “out of mind.” Especially for those working remotely, keeping employees in touch with their managers and colleagues is critical. So plan on scheduling regular phones calls or video conferences, and have full-time, remote workers stop by the office occasionally for some face-to-face time.
There are many reasons to allow working from home: helping employees juggle work and family responsibilities, letting them occasionally dodge a brutal commute, and hiring a key employee who is unable to relocate. Allowing employees to WFH can translate into a happier and more productive workforce and it gives companies the flexibility to recruit and retain employees. Just make sure that your business is ready for it.