work from home

10 ways to make working from home work for employees and employers 

The ability to work from home can be a great perk in today’s increasingly internet-based work environment. According to a recent survey by Shiftboard, a workforce scheduling platform, 49% of employees would be willing to take a reasonable pay cut for more control over their schedules.

However, although flexibility can be a great perk for employers to offer, it can also be risky—potentially ruining productivity and wasting dollars. This is true especially for those employers that aren’t thoughtful about introducing and implementing work-from-home policies.

So, when it comes to giving the OK to email in pajamas, it’s crucial to be proactive and thoughtful; it’s much easier to slowly roll out a work-from-home policy than it is to reel it back. A formalized policy doesn’t necessarily mean a mountain of paperwork; policies can be more formal or less formal depending on the size and nature of your organization. But, in any case, the approach should be well thought out.

Here are 10 best practices to follow to create workplace flexibility policies that work for employers and employees.

Establish eligibility.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, important factors for consideration should include an employee’s job role, attendance record, tenure with the organization, and job performance. This sets expectations for employees and minimizes employee feelings of dissatisfaction and lack of fairness.

Discuss how work will get done.

Don’t let employees figure out problems on the job with their dog. Instead, discuss potential challenges to working from home in advance. Will the employee have the proper access to shared files, for example? Will he or she be able to easily stay connected to the email platform? Should the employee be asked to work the same hours? How will working from home at designated times impact collaboration on deliverables? Discuss these questions in advance of approval.

Secure company data.

Be sure to prevent employees from using non-designated networks or devices that could compromise proprietary data. Letting employees work from anywhere, anytime could cause big problems in the long run.

Engage HR in implementation.

Especially for larger organizations with more formal policies, encourage HR to support managers as their employees adjust to work-from-home hours. HR can help to approve requests or address employee work product if it becomes an issue.

Avoid overtime snafus.

Establish whether non-exempt employees can work from home. For both exempt and non-exempt employees, establish a secure way of tracking hours.

Educate employees.

The more that employees, including managers, understand work-from-home policies, the more likely they will be successful.

Make policies fluid.

Just because  specific terms make it to paper, that doesn’t mean that a policy can’t change. As with any successful policy, work-from-home policies should be continuously revisited and adjusted.

Encourage task-based work.

According to a recent study, employees who successfully work remotely are more likely to understand their work as task-based as opposed to time- or activity-based, making them more productive.  When managing work-from-home employees, focus on deliverables rather than time spent.

Informal can be okay.

Particularly for smaller organizations, informal work-from-home arrangements in which discretion is left up to each department or each employee can work. A study found that sometimes, these informal arrangements work better than formal arrangements because they trigger a greater sense of reciprocity.

Don’t reinvent the wheel.

If you are thinking about starting, expanding, or formalizing a work-from-home policy, the best thing to do is to review what organizations similar to yours have done, according to the Society of Human Resource Management. Understanding the problems a similar organization’s policy may have caused, or why it is successful, can help your organization to be successful, too.

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