Businesses across industries are implementing work-from-home policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When preparing for this change, business owners and leaders need to consider communication, technology and compliance, among other things.
In a typical scenario, planning could take months, but many businesses don’t have that luxury now. This short guide provides an overview of building a work-from-home policy.
1. Prepare your workforce
Start by figuring out which roles can be remote, either partially or completely. This will vary widely based on the type of business.
Then, you’ll need to know if the employees in those roles have the basic technology, such as high-speed internet and a home computer if you’re not able to issue corporate laptops. Keep in mind that you may need to pay to upgrade some employees' internet or mobile plans or provide a stipend for technology.
Changing their workplace from an office setting can be disorienting for employees who’ve never done it before.
You may give your employees a checklist for how to set up their own home office. The checklist should include tips such as how to identify the best location for a workspace and how to prepare your family to minimize interruptions.
2. Set expectations
The change is not only in the physical environment but also in how employees do their work and communicate.
The key to success is communication and setting expectations.
Expectations should include things like:
- How often they should check in and how.
- What they should be communicating, whether that's daily updates, reports about achieved goals or completed projects, or challenges encountered.
- What changes you're making from normal operations or day-to-day activities.
- What work needs to be done or services provided to clients, despite the changes.
Prepare to adjust your expectations and add leeway. Not only are employees working in an unfamiliar environment, but some tasks may take longer. For example, providing daily updates requires both team members and managers to spend more time reading and writing emails.
3. Create communication procedures
Communication platforms are some of the main tools employees will need to communicate and collaborate remotely. Compared to asynchronous email, a major benefit of platforms like these is that they allow for real-time communication — a makeshift replacement for face-to-face meetings. Realize there will be limitations, as not everyone has the internet bandwidth for video calls or a webcam on the home computer.
4. Provide tools
Other tools to consider include project-management platforms that can help you manage your work.
5. Consider data privacy and security
Working outside of the corporate IT infrastructure has implications for data security, especially if you're not able to provide company laptops.
Remote-access solutions and internet-facing servers should be patched and secured with two-factor or multi-factor authentication, with connections made through a virtual private networks (VPN).
For businesses that can't provide devices for working at home, ensure that the employee's home device has patched versions of the most recent operating system and software.
6. Maintain compliance
Compliance doesn't stop in extraordinary circumstances. A work-from-home policy needs to provide flexibility, but it needs to be uniform. Compliance includes paying both exempt and nonexempt employees appropriately, as well as administering relevant policies.
7. Stay flexible
Many employees will have young children at home because schools are closed. Expect to hear—or see—children in the background during meetings, and remember that family distractions will take a bite out of productivity.
8. Create trust and accountability
Business leaders who are new to working from home may not realize that the culture in a remote environment is different not only because you're communicating and collaborating virtually. Remote work relies on trust and accountability.
Managers must set clear expectations and trust their team members to get their job done.
This article was adapted from an earlier version https://bit.ly/2Vv2tFy
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.