12 May How To Set Effective Work From Home Policies Post-COVID
Many of us are working remotely due to COVID-19 and social distancing measures. When the stay-at-home orders lift and social distancing scales back, some businesses will return to full-time, on-site work. Will yours?
The pandemic has revealed that many businesses are more than capable of functioning with employees working remotely. It’s likely that once states reopen and return to business, many employees will ask if they can continue to work remotely for their health or simply for convenience. Many businesses may turn entirely to remote work, and others may let employees work from home part-time or as a special perk.
Some states have started reopening businesses, but social distancing and the health risks of coronavirus aren’t over yet. Even when businesses do begin to open, it may be necessary to socially distance within the office. It’s important to set effective work from home policies, both during social distancing and afterwards when employees may request some time at home.
How to Implement Work From Home Policies
- Be Clear About Expectations
- Step up Your Technology
- Don’t Forget Cybersecurity
- Communicate Often
- Create Benchmarks and Reporting Practices
- Put It in Writing
Be Clear About Expectations
Many businesses were thrust into remote work without time to plan. When you’re planning for remote work post-COVID, you can take more control over expectations beforehand. With time to plan, you can figure out the best policies for your employees and your business.
Be clear about what is expected of employees working from home. If you’re giving them the chance to work remotely full-time, make it clear what hours and workload are expected. If you’re allowing employees to work from home once a week, twice a week, or at any part-time level, make sure that those parameters are clearly set.
In the immediate aftermath of stay-at-home orders, it is possible and understandable that productivity levels decreased. If remote work continues post-pandemic, it’s fair to expect normal productivity. Set fair but firm guidelines for work expectations, and if you’re offering WFH as a perk, make it clear that the privilege can be revoked if those expectations are not met.
Step Up Your Technology
Working remotely means that you’ll need technology to stay in touch. Since social distancing began, many companies have turned to virtual meeting platforms, cloud services, and more to keep communication open. If remote work is something you’ll continue, it’s worth investing in similar technology long-term.
If you haven’t already stepped up your IT infrastructure, do so for long-term remote work. Make sure you have telecommunications tools, a platform for sharing documents like Google Drive or Sharepoint, and more. It’s also important that you make remote work accessible to all of your employees. Be sure that they have access to whatever hardware and software they need, including computers, WiFi, and anything else that’s required. You may have to provide these tools to ensure a fair and equitable workplace.
Since remote work has become more common, it’s likely that there will be even more innovation in remote technology in the coming months. Keep an eye out for the latest tech to make remote work effective and efficient.
Don’t Forget Cybersecurity
Remote work can present an issue of cybersecurity for companies and employees. Since coronavirus brought on remote work, there has been a rise in phishing attacks as hackers see the opportunity to strike.
Make sure that remote employees have a secure internet connection, anti-virus software, and privacy tools. If necessary, use a VPN or encrypt sensitive information. Make sure you have backups of any and all important documents in case of an attack.
Working remotely removes important daily communication between coworkers – both work discussions and friendly, non-work interactions. To prevent miscommunication on work projects and to prevent a lack of community between coworkers, be sure to hold frequent meetings and encourage open communication. When working remotely, it’s better to over communicate than under communicate, so don’t be afraid to overdo it.
Employees and their immediate teams or superiors should communicate daily, even if only over email. One common practice is daily check-in emails, where employees can tell their teammates or managers what they completed, where they struggled, and ask any questions for the following day. For a sense of community, use remote team building activities, virtual happy hours, and more.
The biggest downside to remote work is the fact that you can’t turn to your coworker for a quick question, or meet to discuss a project by simply knocking at their office door. Luckily, the remote technology mentioned above can make up for this problem. Communicating online is easier than ever, so make it a priority to keep up with communication and your remote team can be just as productive as an on-site team.
Create Benchmarks and Reporting Practices
To ensure that employees are still putting in the work that’s expected, create benchmarks for them to meet and ask for frequent progress reports. Accountability policies don’t have to feel like a burden – you can instill accountability without it feeling disciplinary.
Make it clear that while benchmarks are important, your leaders will be reasonable and accommodating. Cultivate a culture in which employees feel comfortable asking questions, asking for help, or asking for extensions on deadlines when reasonable. Benchmarks and progress reports should be fair, so ask for feedback if you’re newly transitioning to this aspect of remote work.
Put it in Writing
Make your remote work policy official by putting it in writing, either in employee handbooks, contracts, or in some other official capacity. While it’s great to have an idea of what remote work should look like, it’s important that these policies are set in stone and clearly conveyed to staff members. Putting your remote work policies in writing will ensure that employees take them seriously and understand that failing to abide by your guidelines could result in disciplinary action, like loss of remote work privileges.
COVID-19 has made it clear that switching to remote work overnight isn’t easy, so try to be patient as employees adjust. Having transparent remote work policies set for future remote employees will ease that transition and set your business up for success from any location.