How To Create an Effective Work-from-Home Policy (With Tips)
Updated March 18, 2023
As the demand for flexible work arrangements grows, businesses are turning to work-from-home (WFH) models to ensure employees take advantage of these perks while still meeting their job requirements.
Effective remote work opportunities can attract more qualified candidates, lower the company's overhead costs and improve overall productivity. Learning the purpose of a work-from-home policy can help you create one that benefits team members and increases their job satisfaction.
In this article, we explain what a work-from-home policy is, describe how to create one, list its benefits and answer frequently asked questions.
What is a work-from-home policy?
A work-from-home policy refers to an agreement or set of guidelines that an employer establishes that outlines the rules and expectations about how employees can work from home. The policy outlines details regarding eligibility, how to request remote work privileges and the approval process. It also guides how staff members manage remote work and includes technology, safety, security and privacy considerations.
Benefits of work-from-home policies
Working from home can provide several benefits for both employees and employers. Here are reasons to consider instituting a remote work policy:
One of the most obvious benefits of a work-from-home policy is the cost savings element. You save on operational and overhead-related costs if you no longer have to rent or maintain office space. You can reinvest this money in other areas of the business, such as employee salaries and benefits or marketing and promotional initiatives.
Builds a culture of trust
Allowing employees to work from home can help build mutual trust and engagement. They feel that the company trusts them to complete their work with minimal supervision and that the employer respects and cares about them. A company can cultivate a culture of transparency and keep its workforce happy, loyal and productive.
Boosts employee satisfaction
Employees with a greater work-life balance are often happier because they're meeting their work and personal needs. Long commutes and in-office breaks take time and often make work more challenging. At home, team members save time, money and energy.
Enhances employee productivity
Employees who work from home may be more productive than those who work in an office setup. They may encounter fewer distractions or the need to take frequent breaks to talk to colleagues. Individuals who telecommute may also have more control over their work environment, which can help them focus on the tasks at hand.
Increases talent retention
Companies may strive to retain employees, which can help offset recruitment and training costs. A remote work policy can help give team members a sense of job security. The result is a reduction in turnover.
How to create a work-from-home policy
To ensure remote employees get their jobs done effectively, it's important to establish a well-defined work-from-home policy. Remember that the policy sets guidelines that help employers feel confident in the employees' abilities to remain productive off-site. Here are some steps to create a remote work policy:
1. Determine who can work from home
First, determine which positions within the company are eligible for remote work. Secondly, determine which employees can maintain a strong work ethic off-site. Consider if you can provide tools or software to help them work effectively. Determine also if you want to offer a flexible remote policy in case some or all employees prefer to work from the office at times.
2. Set expectations
Explain the goals and expectations for productivity, communication, and the use of technology for remote work. Setting clear expectations helps ensure remote team members perform to the company's standards. Ensure the policy clearly outlines working hours and communication expectations with team members and colleagues.
3. Establish and facilitate communication protocols
Since remote employment doesn't allow face-to-face communication, consider alternate ways to help remote employees communicate. Do your research on the costs of the functionality of communication protocols to find the best one for the team. Here are examples:
4. Ensure digital security
Since remote employees work in a digital capacity, it's important to outline the importance of digital security in the work-from-home policy. The IT department can ensure that every device with access to the company network has sufficient protection, such as firewalls or anti-virus software.
Be sure to outline basic security features, such as a secure, encrypted VPN to access the company network, secure passwords, avoidance of public Wi-Fi and general computer security. The IT team can further authenticate remote access and be available to support team members.
5. Clarify the covered expenses
Though remote employees save money on transportation, they may face higher expenses at home when it comes to the need to have high-speed internet, phone and electricity consumption. You may consider offering certain perks. The WFH policy can clarify any expenses that the company can cover. These benefits enhance productivity and provide another level of value to the employees' work-life balance.
6. Explain the approval process
A work-from-home policy should stipulate the approval process right from the application. The application process for remote work privileges can cover expected timelines and the approving manager. It can also show the final communicator of the outcome.
7. Provide information regarding timekeeping
If hourly, non-exempt employees are interested in working remotely, ensure they know how to record their hours and submit them to their manager. Often, companies use a timekeeping website or software to ensure their remote employees work the hours that the company expects. The policy can include specific steps for timekeeping in a remote environment.
What to include in a work-from-home policy
When you write a work-from-home policy, it's important to include certain details to help remote employees know what the company expects of them. The information you provide may also answer any questions they may have regarding remote work. Here's what to include:
Not all jobs are conducive to a remote environment. In the policy, you can include details regarding what positions are eligible for remote work. Clearly state which teams are eligible to work from home and who must work on-site.
Outline the approval process for working remotely. Make sure employees know how to request work-from-home privileges. Also, explain who can approve their request and how long the approval process takes.
Clearly state the hours you expect remote employees to work. You can specify the start and finish times, if applicable, or the minimum hours per day. Keep in mind that some remote employees might be in different time zones, and the policy should reflect that.
The policy must stipulate that the company expects employees to perform to its standards. Make communication on the consequences of low level of productivity clear. The policy further discusses how to track and report work and how supervisors and colleagues can maintain communication to ensure productivity levels meet expected standards.
Since remote employees no longer communicate face-to-face, your work-from-home policy can include information regarding the company's internal communications methods. It can also specify the primary purpose of each method.
For example, you may explain that they can use email for longer communications, a video conference tool for virtual meetings and an instant messaging platform for quick and informal communication.
Information technology (IT) support and requirements
Employees may require specific technology tools, such as software, computers and internet installation. The policy can outline all tech prerequisites the company plans to provide.
Further, the policy can outline the technical support procedure from the IT team in case an employee experiences a challenge. It can also be important to have remote sharing software that enables the team to access employees' computers remotely for quick resolutions.
The policy can ensure guidelines for employees to protect company data. It can also outline the risks of using public Wi-Fi. Consider encouraging employees to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Acknowledgment of receipt
A work-from-home policy is a legal agreement between an employer and an employee. Include a space for employees to provide a digital e-signature. The signature indicates they've reviewed the policy and agreed to its terms.
Related: 60 Work-From-Home Careers To Pursue
Tips for supporting employees that work from home
Here are some tips to help employees work from home more efficiently:
If a virtual work environment is new for employees, help them set up their days with some structure. Companies may opt for a traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. format. If you're considering a more flexible work-from-home policy, you might set specific time minimums per day or prioritize hours during the middle of the day when you think the team is most productive.
Set up collaboration tools
Necessary to a productive and successful work-from-home policy is giving employees a way to constantly communicate with their teams. This can help them stay accountable and make it easier for them to ask questions, get feedback and offer insights into projects and workflows.
Online collaboration platforms often offer ways to organize teams by private rooms, projects or goals, and share documents and links conveniently.
Set up regular meetings
Setting up regular virtual meetings with your team and even one-on-ones can allow employees to stay connected and monitor and evaluate performance. At the beginning of adjusting to a new work-from-home policy, you might schedule more regular meetings to check in on morale and productivity. You might also review potential troubleshooting in IT and equipment.
FAQs about creating a work-from-home policy
Here are some frequently asked questions you might have about instituting a work-from-home policy:
How do you maintain company culture with remote work?
When you have remote employees, staying connected through the company's chosen communication channels is important. Consider planning virtual and in-person appreciation or team-building events to stay connected, such as happy hours, holiday parties and achievement events. Also, you could extend in-office amenities, such as a healthy snack delivery box or catered meals, so they feel included.
What are some common work-from-home positions?
Depending on the type of work the company does or the product it offers, it may be easier for you to allow employees to work from home. Here's a short list of common positions that may be remote:
How can employers ensure productivity?
Employers can use various tools available to monitor the productivity of remote employees. While it's important to continuously motivate employees regarding their remote performance, you can also train them to succeed independently and regularly check in with them. Consider monthly meetings to discuss progress and establish new goals.
What are other options you can offer employees for an improved work-life balance?
A work-from-home policy is not the only way to support employees' work-life balance and job satisfaction. Here are other flexible work options you might consider:
Partial remote or work from home
Results-only work environment
Generous paid leave
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