According to statistics, the number of individuals who work from home has increased by 146 % since 2005. Many employees are choosing to invest in a healthier work-life balance by taking this route and many companies include it as a benefit for their employees. In addition, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses have had to adapt to work-from-home models to keep their staff safe.
Others have adopted temporary remote teams, permanent employees and freelancers. In order to do this, they have implemented working from home guidelines or policies to accommodate workers who have relocated to other areas due to the social and economic disruptions caused by the pandemic. If you are thinking of introducing a work from home policy, or perhaps you have already introduced one for your business, here is some information on how you can succeed at it.
What is a work from home policy?
A work from home or remote working policy is an agreement between you and your workers allowing them to work away from the office (from home or another location) either part-time or full-time.
A work-from-home policy should cover working hours, time-off, compensation (including overtime), equipment and technology, security, and, performance.
It is easier for some functions that can easily adapt to working from home include support departments such as HR, Finance, Marketing, Sales or software developers amongst many others
What are the benefits of working from home?
As we mentioned in a previous article, Remote working helps companies to save on overheads, but most importantly, it helps with making stronger your employer branding and efficiency by improving your employees capacity to adapt their working and personal life. On the other hand it continues helping with business operations, even during lockdowns.
Factors to consider before starting a work from home program
If empowered properly, remote workers can perform better than office-based ones. Before you decide to have your staff work remotely, it is important to consider the effects of a work-from-home policy on management, workers, and customers.
Here are some things you should look at before designing your working from home guideline
Who is eligible to work from home?
As an example, if you are based in the US, not all positions will be remote-compliant, and not all workers suit this kind of policy. According to US labor laws, the employer can decide whether or not to put employees on a work-from-home program. An employee’s work habits or responsibilities can also help you decide whether they are suitable for the program or not. If you are within the European Union, there are also many legislations to take into consideration when reviewing performance and working time due to GDPR. However, there are usually no laws that require an employee to comply with your work from home requests.
Can you provide the right equipment?
You need some specific hardware and software to ensure your staff is productive when they work away from the office. Start by determining if they can access dependable internet speeds and whether they have space that could work as a good office.
How will you monitor performance, goals, and objectives?
You need remote employee software that will track workers’ productivity to keep your telecommuting or remote workers accountable during working hours. Create schedules that work for everyone and put in place evaluation measures to determine productivity.
How will you support the remote workers?
There are many ways to support your remote workers. These include providing remote technical support, helping them to pay for any business-related expenses they incur and offsetting part of childcare expenses, or creating a fantastic culture around it with team building activities that will help them to feel connected to each other.
You should also find ways of keeping communication lines open as your staff works away from the office. This can be done by availing HR or other designated persons to assist with any work concerns.
How will you guarantee the safety of work data?
Your work data consists of private and sensitive information. This can include client information, trade secrets and processes, and other details about your company. Your remote workers need to keep this information private.
You will be required to give them restrictions on how to preserve the safety of your data and maintain client confidentiality. This can include using private networks, VPN’s, NDA’s and other measures.
Can you provide compensation for work-related injuries or losses?
Decide what you will cover under the worker’s compensation policy for your remote workers. How will you establish responsibility for the destruction of equipment or software you provide to remote workers? And can you compensate them for any challenges they face, such as a work injury?
These are all things you need to consider before you set up a work-from-home program.
How to help your staff work successfully from home
1. Assist them in creating a healthy work area
Working from home could comes with a lot of distractions if your team is not used to it. To cut down on this, help your employees set up a healthy workspace where they can work without any disturbances. Such a workspace should have all the necessary equipment for them to work comfortably.
Things like an ergonomic chair and desk, quality computer, and telecommunication equipment are necessary. A reliable internet connection is also a must. You can also help them to set up an area that is fully dedicated to work. Whether this is a garage, spare bedroom or study, encourage them to set up a quiet space and help them to furnish it.
2. Set up ground rules for working
Your ‘working from home’ staff should be accessible at designated times. Establish a schedule as part of the remote working contract that sets up a specific time when they will be required to be online and available to the team. This can include a ‘daily standup’ which is a short meeting to catch up with everyone to find out where everything is at.
Additionally, include rules on how to deliver any work and when. Sticking to such guidelines will ensure your staff offers the best and the entire team remains cohesive.
A healthy work arrangement should also include personal time. Your staff must be able to enjoy their personal space during breaks and after work hours. Find a way to record working hours and compensate for overtime too. It is also important that your remote workers indicate their primary working address, where possible.
Otherwise, communication lines should be open if they choose to work from different areas such as a local coffee shop or while away in another country.
3. Determine performance measures
The way your staff performs from home will show whether your remote working policy is a success or not. To determine whether your workers are delivering, set up work from home KPIs that outline tasks, how to perform them, and when to deliver results.
Make your expectations clear about short and long-term company goals. Having an employee code of conduct in place will also help your workers succeed by staying disciplined. Monitor progress by setting up frequent meetings where you and your team can catch up and discuss work matters or challenges.
Invest in performance appraisal by using tools such as 360-degree feedback. You should also ensure you have HR management software in place to store employee data and aid in the communication of company objectives.
4. Establish communication methods
Let your staff feel free to communicate any challenges and benefits of your work from home policy. Such feedback will help you create a remote work setup that works for everyone. Take advantage of SaaS tools such as Zoom, Skype, and Slack, to keep in touch with your workers at all times. If you are thinking on implementing an integrated HR system, make sure they also include a communication tool for your employees to keep everyone connected.
***as a tip, it is important to have these communications under the same roof so they don’t get lost and everything is trackable.
Setting these systems up will keep everyone in touch and working as required.
5. Provide employee benefits
Remote workers should be paid according to the employment laws. Consider laws governing minimum wage, deductions, overtime calculations, and tax, when determining their pay. Health insurance, working allowances and other perks should be accorded to remote and inhouse workers equally.
Some companies consider paying home office liability insurance for their employees to cover the cost of any equipment loss or accidents in their home offices. Contact an insurance agent to find out which coverage is necessary for your work-from-home employees.
6. Adhere to remote working legislation
If you have remote workers abroad, you need to adhere to the labor and employment laws of those countries. Where your remote employees temporarily choose to work from another state, there are out-of-state employment laws you are obligated to comply with, such as minimum wage and mandatory benefits laws.
You should also follow health and safety legislation, even when your employees work from home. It is difficult to check certain things at your employees’ home, but it could be challenging if they claim and injury and you don’t have a way to prove what you have done to avoid it. Even if it is pure online training about how to maintain healthy habits, check what you need to do with your local legislation.
7. Work on tax compliance
There could be some specific tax implications that govern remote working too. Check that with your legal advisor for this. Social security and payroll taxes are examples of tax-related expenses you can expect.
Try to avoid unnecessary taxation include in your working from home guideline a reminder for everyone to check on this. Keep in mind that working from a different region, country or state, could lead to some tax consequences for workers. Make sure they understand that if you don’t want new recruitments to leave due to . That means you as an employer may have to pay income tax in your state and in that which your remote worker is located. Check with the tax authority for such issues.
8. Keep your employees motivated
While it’s easy to pop into an employee’s office and help them through any challenge, it’s impossible to do that when they are working remotely. We have published an article before giving you some tips on how to create a fantastic atmosphere for remote workers.
However, without motivation, you are unlikely to get the results you need. Find ways to motivate your remote workers by paying an interest in their projects, guiding them through challenges, and helping them to deal with any problems that hinder them from delivering their best.
Working from home is not easy if your company was not used to it, but it can be successful when done correctly. This is a summary of what you should have as a working from home guideline.
Working from home guideline summary
- Hire remotely from the beginning when hiring new roles
- Investing in the right tools
- Setting clear communication lines and structures
- Creating clear objectives and monitoring results
- Using technology to ease operations, and,
- Adapting to the various laws and regulations across different jurisdictions.
It is also essential to have an experienced attorney to ensure you adhere to the legal issues surrounding hiring and maintaining a remote workforce. By doing all the above and creating the right remote workforce, your company can benefit from adopting a work from home policy.
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