How to Implement an Effective Work from Home Policy
4 minute read time
Unexpected events over the past few months have forced companies to quickly convert their in-office employees to remote teams. While some have seen tremendous success with this model, others have struggled. Success with remote work comes down to creating and implementing an effective plan for employees.
With the rise in popularity of remote work and the reduced costs associated with this model, it's no wonder that many companies are considering leaving their new remote work policies in place post-pandemic.
If your company needs a plan for remote work, we've put together some ideas on how to create and enforce an effective work from home policy.
Create a Schedule
If schedules are crucial in the office, they are more important at home. Understand that employees may have different circumstances that can cause distraction. For this reason, it's best to establish the hours you want employees to work. You can use software such as Homebase to keep track of employees' hours by having them clock in at specific times. Keeping employees productive means holding them accountable for being on time, even when they work from home.
Don't forget to include meetings in your schedule; you'll want to document in your policy when and how meetings will take place. Phone calls are an option, but with applications like Zoom, you can maintain a sense of unity with your remote team by taking advantage of video calls.
Set Communication Guidelines
Establishing communication expectations for employees is critical for a successful remote team. Your policy should cover the methods of communication to be used by employees, be it email, a chat app, or phone calls.
It is also advisable to set time frames for employees to respond to work communication. For instance, you may decide that employees are expected to respond to emails delivered before 2:00 pm by the end of the same workday. Whatever time frame you set for responses, make sure your entire team is aware of their responsibilities when it comes to communication.
Motivate with Expectations
In theory, keeping track of employees' hours is a great way to ensure everyone is engaged in working. While this is a good start to holding your team accountable, measuring their productivity is equally as important.
A good work from home policy should state that remote employees will be held to the same standards as in-office employees. For a sales team, this means maintaining the average weekly or monthly sales closed in the office from home. For project-based work, the policy should state that deadlines will be established and must be met.
While this may seem obvious, the shift to remote work can result in a lack of motivation unless productivity standards are discussed. Trusting in your team is important and measuring their success doesn't mean you are micro-managing them. It is simply a way to motivate and keep employees excited about achieving company goals.
Implement a Tech Support System
Computers make life a breeze when they're working, but tech issues can devastate a company's progress when employees are working from home. If employees are left to fix computer problems on their own, hours of productive work can be lost over simple issues. Not everyone is a technology expert, and remote workers shouldn't be expected to solve tech problems on their own.
Investing in Solarwind or a similar remote access software could prevent productivity loss. This software allows your tech support team to access any employee's computer for troubleshooting. Though spending extra money on software can seem expensive, it won't cost as much as delays due to computer troubles.
Address Internet Access
Another computer issue to address in your policy is internet access. It cannot be assumed that every employee has internet access at home. For cases where employees are forced to work at home because of an extended emergency, it may be a good idea to add a monthly stipend to each employee’s pay, allowing them to recover the costs of internet access. However, in cases where an employee requests to work from home when there is the option to work at the office, you might not want to offer a stipend. Whatever you decide, make sure it is spelled out in your policy to avoid confusion.
Provide Cybersecurity Tools and Education
Cybersecurity is essential for all companies, and it is especially important for those who deal with sensitive information. Remote work can cause you to lose control over information security unless you provide employees with the proper tools and education.
Some employees might not be aware of the dangers of using wi-fi networks outside of their own. Explicitly prohibiting using public wi-fi for work is a good start to ensuring information safety.
Likewise, you cannot guarantee that your employees have anti-virus software installed on their personal computers. You may want to add to your policy that when employees are forced to work remotely, your company will pay for their security software. For instances where employees request to work from home, your policy might include their responsibility to install it themselves. Failing to address this information in your policy could be a huge mistake for your company.
Create a Sense of Unity
Maintaining a feeling of unity among your employees is an invaluable component of any work from home policy. You can achieve this in part by establishing your communication guidelines and scheduling virtual meetings, but employees deserve extra appreciation for the hard work they put in, especially during this stressful time we are experiencing. Isolation can have a profoundly negative effect on employees who are used to seeing their co-workers daily.
To counteract feelings of separation, look for ways to reignite a sense of unity. Gifting your employees with company logo merchandise is a way to keep the company spirit positive while employees work from home. Exciting products they will use during the workday are best, such as Custom Yeti’s and S’well drinkware, company t-shirts during the summer months, custom logo hats and sleek phone chargers with your company logo.
Remote work undoubtedly has its perks, such as increased work-life balance. By creating the right work from home policy, you can allow your team to reap the benefits of remote work without worrying about hassles or a drop in productivity. With the help of this guide and a little creativity, you can easily implement a work from home policy that is effective for your company.