The way we work is changing. An increasingly digital workplace gives employers and employees the flexibility to escape from the confines of the office and work remotely from their own homes. With benefits ranging from increased productivity to a better work-life balance, it's easy to see why more and more employers are being asked to allow employees to work from home.
However, before you send your workforce home, make sure you have a clear work from home policy in place. This will help your organisation work to the best of its ability, wherever your employees are working from.
What is working from home?
Before you create and implement a new policy, we should talk about what is meant by ‘working from home’.
To put it simply, teleworking, homeworking, remote working, working from home— whatever you decide to call it—is the use of modern information technology to allow people to work away from the traditional office environment. This usually means allowing employees to work from home.
Working from home can apply to people working full-time, employees working part-time and even those who divide their time between the office and home.
For some business owners and managers, the idea of working from home can seem damaging to their company, but this is not the case.
What are the benefits of letting your staff work from home?
Remote working comes with a great range of benefits that can help boost the productivity and morale of your workforce. Here are just a few of the benefits for you to consider:
1. Encourages employees to find a better work-life balance
Many remote jobs also come with flexible schedules. This means that employees can start and end their day as they choose, so long as their work is complete and to a high standard. This control over their work life can help staff fully enjoy their personal time, creating a better work-life balance.
Working from home also takes away the commute, leaving you and your staff with more free time to relax and spend as they please—from taking that extra time to eat breakfast or work out, to spending time with family and getting much needed sleep. Ultimately this can go a long way to helping your workforce avoid the dreaded work burnout.
2. Improves inclusivity in your organisation
Choosing to let your employees work remotely can help boost your opportunities to diversify the workforce.
With employees not always having to come into an office, you can hire people from different socioeconomic, geographic and cultural backgrounds. These are groups who may not have once applied due to their location and distance away from the office. For some, it also means that expensive commutes that may have previously put off talent are no longer an obstacle to working for you.
3. Provides a more sustainable way to work
Remote working encourages a greener way to work. Less energy is used for powering large office spaces, while no commute ensures an employee's carbon footprint is greatly reduced. Less vehicles on the road can clean up the air in our cities too. Plus, people are much more likely to stay local with their shopping, which helps support their community.
4. Increases productivity and performance
Remote working usually leads to a lot less interruptions, less time chatting with co-workers and less distractions all round. No more getting angry at the office microwave being constantly occupied! For some this ‘office atmosphere’ is enjoyable. Others find that being free from these distractions at home gives them the space they need to think clearly and boosts their productivity.
Although there are many benefits of working from home, there are some complications you will need to iron out and address too. For this you need a clear ‘working from home policy’.
What is a work from home policy?
To make the most of this change of scenery and working style, it is best to set up a working from home policy.
A working from home policy is an agreement between the employer and the employee that clearly defines the role, expectation and responsibility the employee will undertake while at home.
A policy can also be used to define employees who are eligible to work from homes and the process of requesting the ability to work from home.
Why do I need a work from home policy?
Essentially, it sets out the boundaries and rules for all involved. It’s one thing to say employees can work from home—another to have a clear structure in place to make it work for your business. Setting up a working from home policy provides a clear structure and framework for employees to refer to. It also ensures your business is set up for success and employees can work safely and healthily.
What to include in your own work from home policy
Now we know the basics, lets see how you would structure your own work from home policy:
Outline who gets to work from home
You will find that everyone works differently, with some being more productive than others when working from home.
If you believe that an employee needs more structure, offer a flexible work plan where time is spent in the office and at home, with the possibility of the role changing in the future.
Assess equipment requirements
When creating your policy assess what equipment your employees currently have at home. In some cases you will have to supply work laptops and monitors to help maximise their productivity.
Consider the health and safety of your employees
Employers are subject to varying levels of responsibility when their employees work from home. You may want to include language in your policy that allows you to assess your employees’ home from a health and safety angle.
You will also want to ensure their working set up is suitable for their own sake, such as making sure they have a comfortable chair and desk to work from.
Evaluate company security when working from home
With your employees working from home you will be trusting them with important company information outside of the company workspace. This can make managing private information difficult. When creating your policy think about how you can manage this, and how you will regain this information if the employee moves on.
Determine how you monitor performance
Think about how you want to monitor your employees performance as they work from home. Some employers may take a heavy handed approach and install software that tracks employee input. Others may take a more lenient approach by organising regular meetings or just a roundup email, so everyone knows where they’re at.
Make your motivation and objectives clear
Make it clear how your employees should treat working from home. Set clear objectives and motivate them to not see working from home as ‘time off’ but as an extension of the office.
An easy work from home policy template
Putting together a clear, thorough working from home policy is easier than you think. To get you started, try working from our template below.
We created our work from home policy to make sure that working from home meets the needs of our employees and company.
Our remote working policy applies to all employees who choose to work from home.
Are employees allowed to work from home?
Employees are allowed to work from home only if their job role allows it. For example, employees who are in constant contact with clients may be asked to attend the office for meetings. Employees who carry out most of their work on a computer can work off-site at all times.
Employees work from home or telecommute when they complete their work at a place located outside of our company’s premises. They may work from home:
- On certain days
- Everyday, dividing their schedule between being present at the office and working from a remote location.
Work from home arrangements can be occasional, temporary or permanent.
Reasons that could demand working from home include but are not limited to:
- Medical reasons
- Work-life balance
- Overlong commute
Other reasons for working from home depend on employees and managers' judgement.
How to determine whether an employee can work from home
We advise both employees and managers to consider these elements before asking/approving an employee’s request to work from home:
- Is the employee’s role eligible?
- Have cybersecurity and data privacy concerns been considered?
- How will the employee’s team collaborate?
- Does the employee have the necessary equipment or software installed at home?
- What are the conditions of the employee’s home or alternative place of work (noise, internet connection etc.)?
Requesting Work from Home Procedure
When employees plan to work from home, this procedure must be followed:
Employees file a request through email to HR or use our dedicated HR Software at least [select days] in advance.
Managers must approve their request considering all elements we mentioned above.
Managers and team members should meet to discuss details and set specific goals, schedules and deadlines.
What else might need to be included in a work from home policy?
Of course, you may need to include more depending on your company. Do you offer benefits which can’t be attained from home? Will your employees be working from different time zones? These are extra things to consider when creating your own work from home policy.
Stay connected while working from home with easy-to-use HR software
Breathe’s HR software is a great way of managing your employees and keeping on top of HR activity while working from home. It’s the perfect solution for keeping on top of your day-to-day HR tasks, centralising data, and maximising employee engagement.
In the modern day workplace, you need flexibility. Breathe’s HR software is the ideal solution for small businesses to manage, develop, and retain talent.
Author: Andy Stewart