In the past, work from home was rare and unpopular because many employers believed their workforce could be easily distracted at home. However, the pandemic has fast forwarded this practice to almost become the norm in some sectors. Employers have begun to see the many benefits of the work from home model, which includes increased productivity and efficiency, protected public health (especially with the outbreak of Covid19), less need for office space, and so on.
Also, the enabling technologies for implementing work from home are increasingly more available and easily accessible. Employer’s now more than ever must create work from home policies to ensure productivity and prevent lapses in workflows across the various levels of operations. It is also imperative to discuss the various ways the employee must comply with policy to ensure that company data is secure and uncompromised.
Determine which roles can be done remotely
It is crucial to know from the onset which roles can shift seamlessly from the office to the home because some functions within the organization demand physical presence. For instance, a forklift operator cannot function from home, whereas a software developer can easily perform their duties from anywhere via a laptop and internet connection. Also, investigate those roles that are office-bound, or warehouse-bound and find out what functions can be performed remotely by those in these roles.
Decide what rules and company policies should be followed
It is critical for employers to clarify which rules, regulations, and policies of the company still apply to work from home and what is new for those that work from home. Because these employees will want to know exactly what is expected of them in this regard. Usually, all standard company policies and resources such as code of ethics, attendance policy, professional code of conduct, sick leave, and the confidential agreement still apply.
Establishing metrics to measure the success of your remote model policy
Metrics and goals should always be a part of day to day work no matter where your employee has their ‘office’. So, I won’t get into that here because I also feel that there is a level of maturity and responsibility that goes with work from home. It goes towards the concept of Results Oriented Work Environment; ROWE, that was introduced a few years ago.
Items to Consider in Updating Policies:
Technology: Employees need to make sure they have the right technology to complete their tasks. If there is a work from home budget allowance, specify what kind of technology they should have. Often, cheap comes with poor security so you should allow for software, subscriptions and hardware in that budget that have security as a priority instead of free software that leaves your data vulnerable. Also, make sure that they have their own secure, Wi-Fi connection, using a free or mobile hotspot might not give the security or speed your employee needs. This is particularly important for REMOTE workers since they are mobile, their internet connection may change from day to day.
Access to work systems. We have come along way since Citrix Remote Access and I still cringe to think about how S L O W Citrix was. But happily, with the advent of Dropbox, GDrive and Office 365. Enterprise solutions allow you to control how your employees access company data. Again, this is where free can get you in trouble. An enterprise solution will also allow you to REMOTE WIPE a device if (or should I say when) your employee misplaces a laptop or phone. Or, if you need to terminate employment.
Tech support. Pro-actively offer the assistance of your internal tech support to ensure that the technology and hardware that your employee is using is fast, effective and secure. This is not the time for self-help measures.
Client confidentiality. While security and connectivity are important, consider that now, your employee may not have a designated workspace at home. Important documents maybe be available for anyone to read if their workspace is, let us say, the kitchen table. BE CLEAR that all documents should be securely held where third parties cannot view or access. Or, that no printing is allowed or encouraged. After all, haven’t we come so far with paperless offices?
Communication. Your Policies should also include HOW you want your employees to communicate with clients and internally. Data retention policies need to be adhered to regardless of medium. Encourage the use of internal tools like Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet to control the data retention and security. The use of texts is now a normal day to day work occurrence but your employee’s should be aware that even that should be subject to data policies and act accordingly. A best practice should be communicated to your employees.
It is important to be clear about how and where you want your employees to work remotely or from home.
The goal here is to discuss security and policy that will help your company stay compliant with IT security and other regulations such as privacy. And moreso, how education is so important that your employee understand the why behind these policies.
A work from home policy is essentially an agreement that outlines everything needed to allow employees to work from home without causing any disruption to company goals and procedures, and these tips will help employers do just that. While the above are general guidelines, every company has specific needs. Talk to us today to help you update your policy!