Work From Home in 2021: 10 Things Employers Need to Know

Last year, no one expected the massive impact that the COVID-19 outbreak would have on the global economy.

With people kept homebound due to quarantine lockdowns, the prevalent fears were the loss of employment and much needed income.

Thankfully, there is an increasing trend for work from home (WFH) even before the pandemic began.

In fact, many companies already have the technologies in place that allow for work from home. 

With the pandemic still far from over though, there are ten things that employers need to know in order for their companies to be WFH-ready. Some of these key recommendations were put forth by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Let us enumerate these ten vital points one by one:

1) Modifying and/or developing company policies or guidelines on the implementation of WFH arrangements

Every company should have existing policies or guidelines on implementing WFH for their employees.

In the absence of these policies, companies should go about creating a Work From Home Policy that will pinpoint employees that can work remotely and explain companies expectations and employee responsibilities. 

To promote full transparency, the policy should be clear and effectively communicated to all employees.

Any changes in the policy should also be immediately brought to the attention to employees.

Before the policy is signed, the employer should make the effort to determine whether the employee has fully understood the terms contained therein.

2) Duty of care to check on the workers and employees

All employers have the “duty of care” to check on the well-being of their WFH employees.

This does not only include checking the progress on the work that they’re assigned to do. It also includes making inquiries on their health and well-being.

All employers have the “duty of care” to check on the well-being of their WFH employees.

On video conferencing, in particular, employers should be alert to any signs of exhaustion or burnout while talking to their employees.

3) Ensure the safety and health of workers and employees

Prior to WFH, both employers and employees should have undergone training in occupational and safety protocols. This would include the current health protocols against COVID-19. 

Among the employer’s responsibilities regarding this matter are:

  • Determining if the task needed to be accomplished can be done safely at home
  • Making adjustments to the task to make it safe to accomplish at home
  • Providing the right safety and protective equipment when necessary
  • Employees have the relevant contact information, instruction, supervision, and training to deal with any emergencies that occur at home
  • Provision of reasonable accommodations at home for employees with disabilities
  • Making the necessary arrangements for employee’s physical and mental welfare (such as medical checkups and support counseling)

4) Ensure availability of the necessary tools, equipment, supplies, and technologies

Employers should inform their employees of the equipment they need to work at home.

The company can provide the equipment if the employee does not have them at home on the provision that this same equipment is returned in the condition when it was provided.

For this reason, employers should oversee the installation and setting up of equipment. In cases of repair and maintenance, there should be available technical support.

5) WFH setup and related expenses

Traditionally, WFH expenses are not reimbursable. However, because of the current pandemic, partial reimbursements may be given if associated with the following:

  • Landline or mobile phone costs
  • Internet costs
  • Personal computer or tablet
  • Teleconferencing hardware or software

Not reimbursable are expenses intended for the comfort and convenience of the WFH employee, such as additional computers/monitors/tablets, faster Internet connections, printers, or ergonomic chairs.

6) Worker and employee compensation and liabilities during WFH

Employers should establish a system for reporting injuries, illnesses, and accidents that are WFH-related.

Factors to consider include determining if the incident occurred during work hours or at the designated work space as defined in the WFH policy. If found to be work-related, compensation should be given in accordance with national laws.

7) Provision of opportunities for social interaction

Employers should be aware of the fact that many WFH employees may suffer from feelings of isolation and loneliness, not only because of their current work status but also due to the pandemic.

As such, regular meetings should be scheduled not only for work-related matters, but also to “shoot the breeze”, so to speak, with their employees. Good openings for meetings are “How are you doing today?” and “Has anything interesting happened to you?”

Employees should also be encouraged to chat with their co-workers.

Scheduled coffee breaks can be spent catching up with old friends from the office.

8) Provision of encouragement and emotional support

The problem with WFH is that employees don’t have a gauge on whether they are doing their jobs and tasks well at home or not.

It is important for employers to provide encouragement and support to their employees, especially if they are challenged by the task assigned to them.

One way to boost motivation is by setting up a Recognition & Rewards online system which employees can access at any time. 

9) Provision of learning opportunities

Every employer should promote the further growth of each and every employee in his/her company.

The great thing about WFH is that, because they are not tied to the office the whole day, employees can find the time to learn new skills. 

In this regard, employers can offer webinars and online courses on work-related skills, such as programming, AI, and app development.

Of course, you don’t have to limit these learning opportunities to job skills.

Having them enroll in interesting courses like cooking, painting, calligraphy, and creative writing can help in preventing burnout and keep their minds refreshed and motivated.

10) Encourage 360-degree feedback

The growth of any company is a two-way street. Because of this, employers should not only be the ones providing feedback to their employees.

Employees should also be motivated to giving suggestions, recommendations, and constructive criticisms.

This feedback can help to improve WFH conditions, which can lead to increased productivity, motivation, and profitability of the company.

If you are an employer and you are considering having some or all of your employees working from home, just follow our tips above to ensure a highly productive WFH for everyone in your company.

If you’re looking for other resources on working from home, be sure to check out our Complete Guide To Working From Home to get you started!

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