With the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus, many companies are looking for long term solutions to ensure the safety of their employees while allowing business to continue as normal. In response, implementing a sustained — and in some cases permanent! — work from home policy is a good option for adapting to the new normal with a reduced impact on the economy.
There’s a lot of information out there that supports the practice of working from home for both employers and employees. In a normal setting, allowing employees to work remotely helps recruit and retain top talent, reduces overhead costs, and increases productivity. In fact, 86% of those surveyed said they preferred to work alone to “hit maximum productivity.”
Working from home can produce effective results, but it needs to be carefully managed. Without structure, organized management, and clear communication, it’s possible to lose productivity and morale due to loneliness, distraction, and miscommunication.
What can an employer do to create a well-structured work from home policy? Take a look at our top considerations employers should make when creating a work from home policy:
80% to 90% of the US workforce say they would like to work from home at least part-time, but it requires an individual to be organized, accountable, and self-motivated. While these skills aren’t something that can’t be forced, managers can set up their remote employees for success.
Establishing a set schedule with regular check-ins helps maintain a sense of structure and encourages open communication, even though employees can’t walk into their managers’ office. Managers can also establish “office hours” where they’re available to be reached through Slack, Zoom, or any direct messaging service for instant communication.80% to 90% of the US workforce say they would like to work from home at least part-time, but it requires an individual to be #organized, accountable, and self-motivated. Learn more about how to effectively manage a #RemoteWork environment:
Also, establishing guidelines will help provide structure and organization that might otherwise be lacking when working from home. Setting communication guidelines for when and how to use video, messaging, and email streamlines communication, while rules for notifying coworkers when and how everyone will be available by using status updates prevents bumps and roadblocks when working together.
Two major reasons that companies are hesitant to implement a work from home program are that they fear that they’ll lose control of their employees and that they'll be unable to monitor whether employees are working or not. 75% of managers say they trust their employees, but a third say they’d like to be able to see them just to be sure they are working. But with clearly set expectations, this should not be a problem. Your work from home policy expectations should include:
- Specific times employees are required to be available. Though a flexible schedule is a key component for productivity, many employers — especially for client-facing roles — require that employees be available for a certain amount of time, like 11am to 3pm, but can complete the rest of their hours when it’s best for them.
- An established email, phone call, and follow-up response time. Many managers ask that responses be received within a reasonable time frame to ensure that the employee is paying attention to important matters. For example, a mid-morning walk or a quick load of laundry is just fine, so long as they can respond to that client email within a half-hour window.
- Clear communication of work deliverables and deadlines. Make sure your remote workers know exactly what they need to be turning in, and exactly when it’s expected to be completed. This helps them stay on track and prioritize properly.
- A dedicated workspace. Distractions at home are different from distractions in the office. If necessary, provide your remote employees with the same equipment they’d need if they were working as normal. Do they need an extra monitor? Do they have a large enough desk? Do they have a comfortable chair to sit in? Make sure they aren’t lacking something that might interfere with their productivity.
Stock Your Toolbox
Similar to making sure they have the equipment they’ll need. It’s critical that remote workers also have any appropriate company-provided technology. This includes:
- A strong internet connection
- Remote email access
- File sharing capabilities
- Video conferencing capabilities
- A telephone line
Without access to the company’s normal assets, little work can get done. Make sure every remote employee has all the necessary software and apps installed on their devices, any special devices like styluses or tablets that may accompany, and that they have all the logins and passwords — or access to them — for all of their company user accounts.
An easy way to establish basic social interaction is to leave some time at the beginning of team calls for non-work items as a way of catching up with one another. This provides opportunities for the regular small talk that would happen as employees arrive for the day, encounter one another around the water cooler, or grab lunch together.
To create a more relaxed social atmosphere, virtual coffee breaks, happy hours, or staff parties allow for employees to interact more casually, for longer. Virtual events like this, especially ones where food or games are delivered to everyone at the same time, help reduce feelings of isolation and promote stronger connections between coworkers.
Transitioning to a more remote workforce is challenging when the majority of an organization is used to relying on a shared office space, but with the right tools and structure, managers can keep tabs on their teams and address challenges proactively, and head-on.
To learn about how ClearCompany can make managing your remote teams more effective, reach out to our experts today to schedule a free demo.