“There’s only one type of remote work philosophy that fails 100% of the time: unintentionally remote. When you just kinda start letting people work from wherever, or sometimes the office, or, you know, haphazardly, without process or infrastructure. Be intentionally remote.” —Hunter Walk
We couldn’t agree more with this quote from Hunter. There are many ways to operate a business successfully with employees working from home (WFH), but the root of most failures is the same: a lack of established work-from-home policies.There are many ways to operate a business successfully with employees working from home, but the root of most failures is the same: a lack of established work-from-home policies. Click To Tweet
One of HR’s most important tasks in this volatile time will be to create or improve upon a work at home policy. Based on our experience partnering with hundreds of clients whose employees work remotely, here are the basics around creating effective policies and procedures for working at home.
First, determine if your employees should work from home.
This article recommends considering five questions before you agree to let employees work remotely:
- Is the employee eligible by nature of their job?
- Are there any cybersecurity and data privacy concerns?
- Will collaboration with the employee’s team become difficult?
- Do employees have the necessary equipment or software installed at home?
- What are the conditions of employees’ homes or alternative places of work (noise, internet connection, etc.)
Then, create your work-from-home policy.
The following are important things to include:
1. Have an eligibility wait period.
If your company is not fully remote, you may not be comfortable with letting new hires work remotely as soon as they’re hired. For this reason, we suggest implementing an eligibility period of at least 90 days from the time of hire. (Use whatever waiting period makes you comfortable.) Waiting periods help build trust, and ensures employees aren’t taking the job because they see an opportunity to do less work under the guise of “working from home.”
2. Clarify which positions are eligible to work from home.
If you can’t allow everyone to work from home, then you must precisely identify which positions (not which people) are permitted within your policy. I urge you to look for creative solutions that allow as many people as possible to work remotely so you can avoid layoffs and furloughs.
3. Determine WFH frequency and extent and create an approval process.
Decide how often employees will be permitted to work from home and document it in the policy you’re creating. You should also determine the level of flexibility in your policy: Can employees work from home if they aren’t feeling well (but are not sick enough to take sick leave)? Can they work from home on days they have personal appointments that would require them to leave the office?
Your approval process should identify the specific reasons for and frequency that employees are permitted to work from home. Be as specific as possible so the policy cannot be interpreted differently between managers, creating confusion and problems among departments.
Your approval process may include any number of reasons for allowing employees to work from home, including:
- Working from home 50 percent of the work week “just because”
- In case of inclement weather
- Allowed one day a week to work from home (identify whether this is a specific day, i.e., every Friday, or on a day of the employees’ choosing)
- In case of health care needs, i.e., doctor or dental appointments
4. Include the right to modify your work-from-home policy.
Include a statement from the employers’ perspective regarding the ability to modify your work from home policy at any time, for any reason (including business reasons, employee breach of trust, etc.).
5. Outline expectations for availability.
The success of your work-from-home workforce depends largely on your team’s ability to communicate. To ensure tasks are accomplished and goals are met, everyone—employees, managers, and supervisors—should have expectations for availability clearly stated in the work-from-home policy.
Expectations for your employees’ working hours should be communicated both in person and in your policy. We suggest keeping working hours as close to normal as possible to make it easy for everyone to stay in touch. Messaging tools like Slack should be updated to accurately show whether or not an employee is online and available to talk.
If employees are permitted to work outside of normal hours, this should be clearly communicated in the policy.
6. Provide the necessary tools and technology for remote work.
Your work-from-home policy should explain that the company will provide whatever tools are deemed necessary for work, so employees do not have to use their personal equipment. The use of these tools is both an employer responsibility as well as employee’s responsibility—employers must provide them, but employees are responsible for utilizing them properly and consistently. Examples of tools and technology to be included in this section of your policy include laptops, cell phones, VPNs, and call forwarding tools, to name a few.
Employers should decide if and what expenses are allowed, or if there are any types of stipends to be provided for employees who use their own tech to work from home, such as the internet or cell phones, for example.
7. Establish a method for time-tracking.
Especially for hourly employees, employers must provide a method to calculate the actual hours being worked for pay. Timers like Harvest and Toggl are recommended; they both serve as timers, and run reports for hours worked per team member, project, day, etc., so you can see at a glance your team’s productivity.
Looking for a work-from-home policy you can put in place?
If you’re looking for a best-practice-based work-from-home policy template you can use for your organization, you can use ours, absolutely free. Just click here to download it today.