The COVID-19 Pandemic has completely overhauled the way we used to work. What started as a temporary safety measure due to the pandemic is now the most preferred mode of working for a majority of the employees in the country – Work From Home. A study recently conducted by the job portal SCIKEY (Source) found that as many as 82% of its respondents, which included 100+ employees in senior leadership roles spanning over four continents, preferred working from home.
Moreover, the study found that 64% of the surveyed employees feel that they are more productive and efficient while working from home. Thus, it is time for us as employers to understand and accept the changing working needs and preferences of our employees and provide them with an appropriate work-from-home policy.
5 work from home policies to set your team up for success
So, what should be our company policy for employees to help them achieve the desired targets while working from the comfort of their homes?
We can devise the best work-from-home policy for our employees using the below 5 strategies.
Clearly defined working hours
Before the ‘new normal, most offices worked from 9 AM to 5 PM. However, times have changed now. As an employer, we must redefine the working hours for our employees working from home. We can define this as per the business requirements, keeping in mind that employees can maintain a work-life balance.
If the nature of our business is such that the employees need to be available during set working hours, we must define that. If the business can function well with flexible working hours, then we should provide that to our new-age employees, but we must define the number of hours they must clock in or the amount of work which we expect from them every day. At the same time, we must ensure they do not end up working the entire day as this can affect their well-being in the long term and, ultimately, their productivity.
Use of required technology
In our work from home policy, we must put down in writing what software and equipment we want our employees to use, be it for attendance marking or keeping the company data safe. It can be difficult to work from home in the absence of the right software and tools, and thus, as an employer, we must ensure that our employees have access to the required technology while they are away from the office.
Moreover, we must ensure the presence of robust tech support as it can be really troublesome for the employees if their laptops or other important equipment or software stops functioning properly while working from home.
While working from the office, it is easier to keep a tab on everyone and connect with the employees whenever required. It is also more convenient to plan team events to keep the work environment cheerful. When employees are working from home, it becomes highly important for us to establish proper and useful communication channels to communicate with the employees on a regular basis. But, it can be a little tricky to maintain communication as before while working from home.
For this, we need to first define a set of appropriate guidelines for communication that can tell employees the different ways they could use to reach their colleagues and the management for different purposes. Like, email communication can be used for applying for leaves or for flagging a concern. Similarly, workspace instant messaging platforms like Slack or Google Meet can be used for instant team messages or video calls. We must also provide the required work feedback to the employees and give them a platform to discuss the issues they might be facing due to the remote setup.
A manager’s or senior leadership’s approval could be required for a variety of purposes such as employee leaves, hiring decisions, purchase calls, client communication, project delivery, etc. When employees work from the office, approvals often happen quite quickly, especially for smaller teams, but a work-from-home setup with flexible timings can cause delays in approvals for employee leaves as well as business decisions.
Thus, to do away with such irregularities, we as employers must define the channel and response time for approvals clearly. We must also lay down the rules and procedures which should be applicable for the approval of different requests. This will help us curb unnecessary requests and speed up the approval processes.
Performance expectations and appraisals
It is very important for any business that its employees perform as per or beyond expectations so that the organisational goals can be met. However, performance supervision and management can be tough while working from home. Thus, as employers, we must define the work expectations from employees very clearly in terms of monthly or quarterly goals. For this, managers should schedule periodic interactions with their team members to understand where they are on the path to achieving the given targets.
As employers, we should clearly state in our work-from-home policy the parameters that will be used for appraising their performance and compensation. Regular performance reviews also help us become aware of any dissatisfaction among employees related to their salary or work expectations and act on them in time to keep employees’ motivation levels high and attrition rates low.
It is crucial for us as employers to adapt to the changing needs of our employees. Two or three years ago, no one could ever have imagined that we all would be working from home, leaving the age-old traditional way of working from the office. But today, it has become the ‘new normal’ for working professionals, and we must update our company policy for employees to cater to these new and preferred requirements.
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