Tired of being stuck in traffic and the daily commute, many have started seeking from the ‘working from home’ option. For people who want better work-life balance, the ability to telecommute or ‘work from home’ is a blessing. But without guidelines, it could be your and the company’s biggest nemesis. It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to figure out that managing remote employees is a nightmare.
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Some of the reasons why people will grab at the opportunity for telecommuting are:
- Bad weather
- Medical issues
- Commute times
Here are four important things to keep in mind when you frame a policy for working from home:
Should there be an eligibility criteria?
When deciding on a remote work policy for your employees, you need to think of the collective attitude, work ethics and personalities of the people. Not everybody can be or willing to be productive when the boss is not around. Keeping a rule that work from home is available only for employees who have been with the company for at least six months might seem fair. You could also have a cap on the number of days someone can take a work from home. Limit it to twice a month. Managers should have the discretion of accommodating such requests. Based on the projects that are being done currently, managers can provide the option on a case-to-case basis.
Making the policy ironclad
Frame the policy in a detailed manner, clearly spelling out the dos and don'ts. In case there are any disagreements in the future, it will be easy to iron out any differences. The policy should also state how many hours you expect your employees to work from home. See for risk assessment procedures with your legal department. In your document, make sure you set clear expectations with your employees.
Possible security breach
Since employees will be using internet over unsecured public networks, ensure that all devices are secured and password-protected. Also, make it mandatory for employees to only use the work-related devices for professional use.
Communication methods used
IM services have become the norm of the day thanks to its convenience. Also phone calls and video conferences should be part of the routine so that there is no miscommunication on any scale which can occur via text-based communication. Google Hangouts can be a life saver for you. It’s easy to feel disengaged when your physical presence is not there. Keeping in constant touch will make sure you feed off the productivity of the entire team.
What if an employee abuses the policy?
There are always a couple of rotten apples in the bunch. So how do you handle those who abuse the privilege? The policy should explicitly mention that if an employee is found abusing the privilege then it would be revoked for him/her. You should be able to measure the results produced by the employees at each step so that you can quantify the work done. Management should be tough but still give the employees the freedom to work at their own pace.
When you want to give your employees the privilege of work from home, there is no standard approach. It depends on case-by-case. You should take into account the kind of culture that your startup follows, take account of the weather conditions, etc. Get a sense of when your employees work at their best and draft a policy accordingly.