Remote work is beneficial to both employees and employers. When it is handled the right way, it can increase productivity and it can also help a business attract and retain the top talent in their industry. 

As beneficial as remote work can be – and in times like now when it’s mandatory – you don’t want to just tell employees that they can work from home and leave it at that. You need to have a clear work from home policy so employees know what to expect and what you expect of them.

While different businesses will have different concerns, the following are a few of the points that should be considered when developing a work from home policy that lasts through COVID-19 and beyond.

Define Expectations and Scope of Work

Whether employees are in the office or working from home, you need to set clear expectations. For some employees, you might be able to set guidelines that hold up no matter how long they work from home.  For others, you might need to update your expectations weekly or even daily.

When you are covering expectations and guidelines, you will need to consider things like the number of hours worked in a day and if you need employees to be available at specific times. You might also need to develop communication policies and standards for the quality and types of work that can be done from home.

Additionally, you might need to offer guidance on being effective remote workers. Teach them how to manage their time when they are working at home and provide them with information that will help them set up a good home office.

Establish Means of Communication 

Communication is an important part of any work arrangement, but it becomes more of a concern when you have employees working from different locations. Since people won’t be able to stop by the person’s desk to have a conversation or collaborate, you need to develop different communication channels to keep everyone connected.

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Make it clear to employees that phone calls, emails and text messages will be an important part of the remote work experience. You should also consider group messaging platforms and video conferencing software. 

Security Requirements

Data and network security can be more of a concern when you have employees working from home. If they are using personal devices, there is a chance that they could accidentally introduce malware to the company network. Even with devices supplied by the company, an employee that is not at the office might feel more comfortable installing a risky app or downloading files that are not from a reputable source. Plus, there has been a surge in COVID-19 scams that target businesses and their employees.

You need to have security policies for remote workers. Teach them about cybersecurity best practices like setting strong passwords and not using public Wi-Fi. You should also have your IT department invest in tools and security measures to protect your remote workers and your company. This could include things like firewalls, encryption, VPNs and anti-malware software.

Productivity Measurements

Some employers are reluctant to implement remote work because they think employees will abuse the privilege. While there is always the potential that some employees might try to take advantage of the situation, research indicates that remote workers put in more hours.

The best way to ensure productivity is to make sure employees know what is expected. That includes things like hours worked and setting quotas or deadlines for different types of projects. You will also want to set up time logs or use time tracking software so you can keep an eye on the amount of time your remote workers are putting in each day or each week. You may also want to consider using project management software to track tasks and projects as they are completed.

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Defining Which Expenses are Covered by the Company

With no commute, your employees will save time and money. However, they will have more expenses at home. Working from home will increase their consumption of electricity and they will also need high-speed internet. You also have a range of office supplies and equipment that might be needed if they are going to work from home.

As a part of your work from home policy, you will need to outline which costs will be covered by the company and which will be the responsibility of the employee. If they will be dependent on any software to do their job, you should pay for it or provide it to the employee at no cost. You might also want to consider giving employees a stipend to cover office supplies like paper and pens.

Remote work will have its advantages, but you need to educate your employees on the work from home policy and make sure they understand the requirements. You should also ask your employees for feedback and continually look for ways to improve your company’s work from home practices. Whatever you establish now while it’s mandatory during COVID-19 will help create successful practices for your businesses even after you’re allowed back in office.

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