This year, employers around the world have started to evaluate and update their work policies— particularly as it relates to the office space. Traditionally, most companies have required workers to come into the office to complete their work.
But following the global pandemic of 2020, and its resulting impact on the workplace industry, employers are finding new solutions that offer workers flexibility in their work habits.
Now business leaders want to know whether their employees should work from home or go into work. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of each option, and how you can create a solution that best benefits your entire team.
Working from Home policy
If your company didn’t have one already, it’s likely that you or your leadership have come together recently to create a work from home policy— a policy that allows people to work remotely or from the comfort of their home.
In the last couple of months, work from home policies have become more common as non-essential workers have been asked to stay at home. Among the benefits of working from home include:
- Flexibility – The ability to work on your own as your schedule allows you to. For employees with newborn children or elderly to tend to, WFH policies create the opportunity to spend more time with family without neglecting work responsibilities.
- Mood booster – Who doesn’t feel more comfortable at home? It’s an environment people are familiar with and feel safe. Working from home can result in a significant mood boost.
- Cost savings – Not having to spend money on transportation costs like train fare or gas means more money towards other priorities, like paying rent and utilities or reinvesting in the company.
Companies looking to institute a WFH policy should be careful to update all their processes accordingly. This includes updating HR’s responsibilities in filling remote and in-person positions and developing remote onboarding capabilities. For workers, this means adapting to remote applications like ZOOM or Slack for better communication. Be sure to also read your local and state regulations on compensating workers remotely.
Improving Remote Working
Fortunately, there are concrete steps your business can take to improve your remote work experience. Work closely with your HR department and/or key leadership to update your program to better meet your workers’ needs. Below are just a few ways you can do so:
Hold more 1:1 meetings
A lot of communication is lost when transitioning online. Even something as simple as a face to face conversation with someone in person can open up new creative opportunities or just boost one’s mood. Try scheduling 1:1 meetings with your coworkers and supervisors— it will make communication far clearer and help to build a more authentic working relationship.
Send out employee surveys
Feedback is essential to understanding the bottlenecks and room for improvement within a company. While it’s great to receive feedback from leaders, it’s really the people doing the day-to-day work that you should be most concerned about. Find out what makes their remote work difficult, and really listen to their problems. That is the first step to enhancing your WFH policy.
Host employee appreciation events
It shouldn’t be all about work. Show your team that you care. Whether it’s a social-distanced cookout or a virtual happy hour, hosting a unique event at least once a month will go a long way in cultivating a welcoming atmosphere and culture.
Why remote working is not for everyone
As alluring as remote work can be, some people have a better time with it than others. The common drawbacks of remote work include:
- More distractions – Anybody who has worked from home understands how difficult it is to stay focused. From the comfort of your bed to the chores left unfinished, it seems like there’s always something keeping you from work. Even if you work in a cafe, the sounds of running coffee machines and chatty patrons can be a nuisance.
- Lack of oversight/accountability – Supervisors are all too familiar with the difficulty of keeping track of everyone’s work. It’s easy to ignore an email or call, or miss important deadlines, but it’s difficult to remind or reprimand people remotely.
- Missing equipment and amenities – Offices tend to have those additional items that make work much easier: printers, fax machines, teleconference technology, monitors, you name it.
Weighing the pros and cons of remote work can help you design policies for all kinds of employees, and possibly even offer hybrid work (the choice between remote and in-office). Supervisors may wonder, “why is the choice important?” The truth is, offering more flexibility in how your employees work will make them more effective in the long run.
How to know which employees should work remotely
If you are in the process of creating a remote work policy for your own employees, the next question becomes who is right for remote work.
If your employees are any of the following, then they should be allowed to work remotely for the foreseeable future.
– Employees with kids – Without school in session, parents may need to be home to care for their children, particularly if they are younger.
– High-risk individuals – Although everyone is at risk for COVID, elderly people and those with underlying medical conditions are at greater risk.
– Overseas workers – Workers from overseas should already not be expected to come into the office, but in case you have any upcoming meetings, consider switching online.
– Highly autonomous employees – If a person has a personal preference for remote work and exhibits increased productivity, then they should be given the option.
Ask each of your employees how they feel about working from home and their overall comfort of working in the office. As long as your employees are in a place where they feel empowered and supported, giving the option to work remotely or at the office can be one of the best things you do for your team.