Transitioning to WFH can be very difficult for both employers and employees alike who have worked exclusively on a work from office basis (WFO) for years. This has proven to be true especially during the COVID-19 pandemic wherein companies were scrambling to get their businesses running despite being in lockdown.
Now that WFH is going to be a part of the “new normal”, there is a greater push to implement WFH permanently or as a hybrid set up.
If you are planning to make such a transition in your business, you need to establish guidelines for working from home. These guidelines will embody your company’s Work From Home Policy, which your employees need to sign and agree to before they begin working from home.
Of course, every company has their own goals and requirements. However, you can make your own WFH policy using the standard guidelines presented below.
1) Define Priorities and Essential Work
The very first guideline is involves determining which jobs can be done remotely or as a hybrid setup and putting them down in writing in the WFH policy.
Employers should remind and re-emphasize the mission and goal of the company. This would involve defining the responsibilities and priorities of each individual employees as well as observing proper decorum and right conduct, particularly when dealing with business partners and clients.
Technology guidelines state the devices that employees need to WFH. At its basic, these technologies comprise a computer/laptop, monitor (for desktops), Internet connection, smartphone, and the necessary software/apps.
In some cases, computers or laptops are issued by the company to their employees.
These computers should be exclusively used for work and should be returned when no longer needed or if the employee resigns. Most employers will not cover the costs of Internet, phone and other personal technology.
If not clearly stated in the guidelines, employees should ask which WFH costs are reimbursable.
Companies should emphasize the best security practices in their WFH policies. Some of these security practices include the basics (such as the use of strong passwords and two-factor authentication, not answering questionable emails or clicking links) and the use of cloud storage with password for sensitive/ confidential documents.
While most companies will have their own VPN, in the absence of such a secure network, an employee can ask if the cost of availing of such a service is reimbursable.
Employees should also practice confidentiality in social media. Among these social media protocols are the strict non-posting of a client’s personal data and confidential company documents in Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Employees should not also issue any statements without prior approval of the company.
4) Home environment
The WFH policy should define the home environment that is conducive to working from home. This would include the choice of a room or place in the home with minimal traffic from members of the household. There should be adequate lighting, a good working desk, and ergonomic chair. These furnishings are going out of the employees’ pockets and are not reimbursable by the company.
Employees are encouraged to set restrictions with family members especially during working hours.
It is the concern of many WFH employees on how their salaries are to be paid. Many businesses still follow the same in-office salary rates and schedules with their WFH employees. However, current remote work salary procedures require paying regular hourly rates. Some companies determine salary rates by geographic location (WFH employees who live in areas of lower standards of living have lower salaries while those who live in expensive locations command higher salaries). Others gauge salary rates by the individual employee’s work output.
Same as in the office, WFH overtime must be approved by the employer in advance.
6) Conduct of virtual meetings/regular communication
The employer should state the best days and times for virtual meetings. This would involve speaking with employees about their availability first. This policy recommends the best apps to use. For example, Zoom and Skype can be used for teleconferencing while Slack is the ideal choice for chats and direct messaging. Each employee should provide their employers with the best times for chat and their availability for messaging or texting. If necessary, a dress code for meetings should be defined. For example, an employer may require employees to wear a shirt/blouse and coat to maintain a professional look in meetings with clients. To preserve the privacy and work-life balance of the employee, it should be clearly stated that no messaging or phone calls is allowed outside of designated work hours.
7) Time and Performance
Employees should be encouraged to talk with their managers on work priorities, expectations, deliverables, timelines, and deadlines on a regular basis. This ensures greater productivity and better quality of work output, as well as improved collaboration between members of the remote team when working on joint projects.
8) Health and Safety
Employer has no responsibilities or liabilities for the health and safety of an employee’s family while WFH. Even before they begin working from home, the employee has the responsibility to determine if their job can be performed safely in the home.
In case of illness in the employee or he/she needs to care for a sick family member, the company should state the protocols on requesting for leaves.
9) Allow for opportunities for career growth
It is the concern of many employees that they may not be able to advance to higher positions in the company if they are on WFH status. Employers should provide opportunities for career growth.
This may include offering online training programs and courses related to their business. They should also create or update documentation pertaining to job responsibilities, processes, and performance evaluation
10) Create flexible work agreement
Employers should ensure that all WFH protocols are put in writing and in a language that is simple and easy to understand. It is very important that employees understand the terms clearly before having them sign the agreement.
Having a Work From Home policy not only makes it easier to transition for your company to transition to a WFH setup. The guidelines contained therein will aid your employees in meeting work expectations and abiding the rules of conduct put forth by your company.