Our world is becoming increasingly more unpredictable. With this comes not just the desire, but sometimes the need for your employees to work remotely. Permitting employees to telecommute increases your options too. It allows you to hire a talented person who lives in a state where you don’t have an office, and it can also let you help existing employees have the flexibility they desperately need to maintain a positive work/life balance. Creating a remote, “work-from-home” policy is the first step in addressing the parameters and expectations for telecommuting to ensure your remote employees are successful. Here are our top 5 tips for beginning (or updating) your work-from-home policy:
1. Define Eligibility
Trust is at the core of a productive telecommuting role, and it’s one of the biggest reservations employers have. Are your remote employees actually working? According to a recent study conducted by Stanford University, that answer is “yes.” Their results show that telecommuting employees outperformed office-based employees by 13.5% from a productivity standpoint. Determine the parameters you’ll require employees to meet before being eligible to telecommute. We recommend starting new agreements on a trial basis. Begin with a 30-day pilot phase, then increase that to 90 days. If things are going well, extend it to 6 months. By not making your arrangement permanent from the start, you encourage ongoing accountability.
2. Outline Technology Requirements
What tools do your remote employees need to ensure they are successful from a technological perspective? Will you require them to have a dedicated home office set up? Will you pay for it, or will they? Will they need a certain internet speed? Who will set up any special equipment and ensure it is working properly? A technology check-list helps ensure that each remote employee is productive and that they have access to the same resources as your in-office team.
3. Explain Expectations for Performance & Communication
Face-to-face contact plays a big role in effective communication. When you remove that from your daily routine, communication can take a nose dive. Outlining your expectations for communication and performance from remote employees is critical. Whether it’s a daily report outlining the status of projects, or a weekly Skype call to talk about priorities for the week, consistent communication ensures your remote employees are doing their jobs.
4. Obtain a Signed Liability Waiver
Protect yourself and the company by requiring employees to sign a waiver that releases the company from any liability or injuries that could arise while working remotely.
5. Track Time
Remote employees are still bound by the same laws and regulations that govern in-office employees. This means abiding by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and tracking and documenting employees’ time.
The reality is it's no longer feasible to expect each of your employees to conduct business entirely from the office. Life is increasingly busier and more chaotic. Those of us who prepare and adapt our workforce and our policies will be more likely to thrive long-term.
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