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The modern workforce has traditionally been location specific. But with the advent of telecommuting technology, the world saw a rise in remote or virtual teams being employed. By the end of 2019, 4.7 million people in the U.S. were already working remotely. And since the pandemic hit, over 88% of businesses across the world moved to a remote mode.
You are now looking at a world where working out of the office is no longer the norm, and hence a work from home policy is required. Businesses are now forgoing geographical barriers and hiring the most eligible candidates to ensure a well-rounded team. There are several benefits of working from home, but it has its own set of challenges. One of the most comprehensive ways to deal with the challenges of a virtual team is a flexible work from home policy. Given the state of affairs, chances are that you too are struggling with your employees working from home.
How do you ensure that the remote workforce is not only productive, but also motivated and on the same page? The easiest way is to draft an effective work from home policy.
How to Implement a Work from home Policy
As an employer, your employees will likely look to you for opportunities to connect remotely, regularly, and efficiently. These opportunities need to come through your work from home policy that will help develop the company’s remote work culture. Take a look at these effective practices, policies, and guidelines within your work from home policy to ensure that the switching gears of the new age workforce don’t affect your business.
Rethink Your Policies
First, decide whether you even need a work from home policy. A year ago, organizations had the liberty to decide whether they wanted to offer remote work at all. But with the pandemic forcing the world to adapt, everyone is working from home now irrespective of preferences. So an effective work from home policy becomes a requirement in this situation.
There are several ways to design your work from home policy. But what comes down to the essence of remote work is trust. You must be willing to extend trust to your employees and their motivation and this trust should be the foundation of your work from home policy. There is no other way to approach this situation. If there is no trust involved, the policy will only serve as a piece of paper.
Your work from home policy is no different than any other policy. It should reflect how you want to present yourself or your organization. And while it may be a difficult process to transition into the remote mode, remember that it is equally difficult for your employees who have to get used to a considerable amount of new processes, guidelines, and a brand new work from home policy. Similarly, it is important to extend your work from home policy to include recruitment efforts as well. Here is a guide for digital hiring that will give you insights into remote hiring procedures and best practices and help you draft an effective work from home policy.
Update Your Metrics
Your work from home policy is your roadmap to remote work. In the office, you may judge an employee’s productivity based on whether they are punctual or how they interact with their colleagues. Or you might have a detailed policy about how the employee is performing. But when there are compelling reasons to work from home, most of these metrics become obsolete. Therefore, your work from home policy needs to consider what metrics are relevant.
Multiple studies have corroborated that employees are more productive when working remotely. But your work from home policy still needs to define how their performance is measured. Update the metrics in your policy to evaluate their output rather than work hours or punctuality. Consider changing your priorities to cold hard results over performative productivity. Here are some examples of the metrics you can employ in your work from home policy:
Leads per rep
Average deal cost
At the end of the day, it boils down to the relationship you share with your employees., If it’s robust, productivity will flourish even in the most trying times.
Reset Your Communication Channels
Communication can make or break any process even in the most regular setups but when your entire workforce needs to work from home, communication becomes all the more important. Motivating your employees becomes pertinent at this juncture. There are several ways to keep everyone on the same page effectively, but for that, you will have to rethink your channels and integrate them with your work from home policy. In-person calls and meetings are not an option anymore, so you will have to figure out what works best for your team. Are they comfortable with Zoom meetings or do they prefer Slack calls instead? Is your team active on the internal channels, and is the communication clear? How do you assign tasks? Is there a clear line of accountability? All of these questions need to be answered through your work from home policy.
There are several apps and software that will help you stay on track like Slack, Xebrio, and Basecamp. These tools make life easier for virtual teams and are a bonus to an in-house one. In any case, your communication channels are an integral part of your work from home policy. You can also check out how executives from other organizations are dealing with a remote workforce.
Invest in Data Security
Working from home comes with challenges, and one of the key challenges for you as an employer would be your data security. If you haven’t already, consider data security to be the core of your work from home policy. As your employees will be working from home, they will be handling your data individually in several locations, some on their personal devices. This could lead to catastrophic issues if any of their devices are compromised or there is a lapse in following procedures. Data security is one of the key components of an effective work from home policy, no matter the nature of work involved.
Most companies today work solely on the basis of their data. And it is extremely important to ensure that the data is safe and free from any tampering. To make sure of this, you need to take a few key measures and document them within your work from home policy.
Get your employees accustomed to basic data security practices
Provide them with access to VPN
Equip all the devices in use with up-to-date data protection
Run an audit for security and password
Make it mandatory to backup all work on the organization’s server
Consider switching to and encouraging your employees to use cloud services
Consider using an MDM/EMM solution
There are many ways to ensure data security but these should give you a fair idea of what to include in your work from home policy.
Offer Equipment and Tech Support
Devices and software break down often, and they will continue to do so in remote mode too. In order to help your employees work from home effectively, it is important to provide them with all sorts of support necessary and make sure the provision is a part of your work from home policy. Have a dedicated person or team, depending on the size of your company, to coordinate tech support. Let your employees know the procedure to follow in case of breakdown and have a protocol in place for any contingencies in your work from home policy. It is better to be prepared and not need it, than to be unprepared and require it. And your work from home policy is the document that helps you prepare thoroughly.
Conduct Frequent Team-building in Events
Your employees’ morale is at an all-time low. The pandemic has wreaked havoc with personal lives, social lives, and professional lives. On top of that, remote work tends to increase feelings of isolation and alienation within people. With no in-person interaction with their team members or colleagues, there is no sense of connectedness within your team. Your work from home policy is where you can fix that.
A great way to remedy that is to include non-work related activities in your work from home policy and conduct them frequently within office hours. Team-building events or fun activities go a long way in encouraging your team to feel comfortable and rejuvenated. And now that everyone is in the comfort of their home, you can get creative with the kinds of activities you plan. Ensuring that this effort is undertaken for remote employees, it is important to add these minor details into your work from home policy. In order to get a head start on your work from home policy, you can download Human Resources Report’s work from home policy template.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to trust. You need to trust your team, and they need to trust you. Only then can a team survive virtual collaboration, even with a brilliant work from home policy in place.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you write a work from home policy?
List the positions eligible for work from home
Provide detailed description of timings, KPIs, additional instructions, etc
Set up technology and support requirements
Follow Deck 7’s BDA guide
Why is a work from home policy important?
A work from home policy offers added flexibility to the job profile and is one of the highest-rated perks among millennials. It also outlines the exact expectations from remote workers and sets the tone for further interaction. A work from home policy boosts productivity, lowers costs, and helps you leverage a global workforce.
Are employees who work from home more productive?
Studies have shown that working from home marks an increase in the productivity levels of the employees. This could be due to the reason that employees feel more accountable for their work.
What should be included in a remote work policy?
The key elements of you remote work policy should be:
The purpose or objective of the WFH policy
Eligibility of the employees for WFH policy
Duration of WFH for employees
Work timings and shifts
KPIs for remote employees
Security and confidentiality