Seventy five per cent of India’s millennials think they should have the option to work from home, with work-life balance the biggest reason for this request. However, until recently, employers didn’t agree. Due to the recent lockdown, most of the employees have been working from home. If your workers are among them, this might be a good time to create a formal work-from-home policy.
A written policy will give workers clarity on do’s and don’ts.
Having a solid policy in place and sharing it with all the employees ensures that everyone’s expectations are set right. It will not only keep productivity high but help in resolving any issues or disagreements.
Here’s how to create a work-from-home (WFH) policy
In normal times, working from home is a coveted benefit. The 2020 lockdown caused by COVID-19 made it a necessity for many businesses across India. To make sure employees know what you expect of them and what they can expect of each other, create a written work-from-home policy. Here’s how to write it:
Set the intentions right.
Define who may work from home.
Outline the process of approval.
Ensure uninterrupted time and communication.
Set work quality standards.
Put network security measures in place.
Decide on the expenses.
We’ve included three work-from-home policy samples at the end of this post to give you an idea of what to include in your WFH policy.
1. Set the intentions right
It is important to define the purpose of the work-from-home policy. What are you trying to achieve by providing work-from-home opportunities? Is it for the temporary period until the country is past the pandemic crisis? Or do you plan to make it a permanent part of your organizational policies?
2. Define who may work from home
Next you’ll want to decide who can apply for the WFH privilege, for how many days and what are the rules he will have to follow to ensure productivity?
In any organization, not all jobs can be done from home.
Therefore, the policy should state which positions or job profiles are eligible to request for work from home clearly.
Important factors that you should consider while evaluating a job profile for WFH eligibility:
Whether it is a front office (i.e. requiring customer interaction) or back-office job
Can the work be done with limited or no supervision?
Does the work involve engagement with confidential data?
What are the reasons for which WFH can be granted? For example, medical reasons, parenting, family illness, extreme weather conditions, commuting problems, etc.
Does the employee have the requisite infrastructure in his home? The infrastructure may include high-speed Wi-Fi, printer and any required software.
How is the work environment at his place? Does he have small children at home or any construction work going in the vicinity?
However trivial these points may look, they can heavily impact the productivity of your employees and your bottom line, of course.
3. Outline the process of approval
The approval process should also be included in your policy. This section of your policy should clearly answer the following questions:
How should the employee request for work from home? Should he write an email to his manager or apply through a formal Human Resource Information System?
Who are the authorities from whom he needs to take the approval? Is it the direct manager alone, other related authorities or HR also?
How many days in advance should the request be filled?
Think about what questions your workers will have and try to answer them here.
4. Ensure uninterrupted time and communication
Although employers want to provide an extra benefit to their employees to attract the best workers, they are often worried workers might take unfair advantage of the system.
Set the office hours your worker has to be available and mark attendance through a morning phone call, email or Slack check-in.
You may also choose the software on which he has to be available throughout the day. For example:
Instant messaging such as Slack or Google Chat
For meetings via Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams
On collaboration software like Asana or Trello
For tracking time on task via tools like Time Doctor or RescueTime
Let them know that answering phone calls and replying to text messages promptly is expected. This way, there will be fewer misunderstandings.
5. Set work quality standards
Have objective standards to measure the quality of work. In the places where the type of work cannot be measured objectively, the feedback and inputs from the supervising manager should be more frequent and detailed.
Here, it is important that the KPI (key performance indicators) on which the employees’ performance will be measured should be clearly explained by the manager and agreed on beforehand.
6. Put network security measures in place
When an employee works from the office, he works in a secure internal network environment where all the company data is protected by firewalls.
When workers use unsecured public internet connections to log in to business networks, the chances of virus or malware infection increase.
To ensure this does not happen, you may restrict the employees from accessing your network from public Wi-Fi in places like malls or coffee shops. You might also install a VPN (virtual private network) on their systems so that they can securely connect with the business network from anywhere.
7. Decide on the expenses
When an employee works from home he does save on petrol, but a lot of other expenses pop up. For example, the cost of making calls, high-speed internet, electricity, coffee, printer, stationery, etc.
Whether you decide to pay the expenses or not, it should be mentioned clearly in the policy to avoid any confusion later.
Work-from-home policy samples
Not sure how to start writing your own WFH policy? Here are some work-from-home policy samples for your reference:
Use these as a guide to write a WFH policy that suits your business.
Keep everyone productive with a clear WFH policy
A formal work-from-home policy ensures that the process of applying for and working from home is not only easy for the employee but safe and equally productive for the organization.
With all the steps listed in this article and the work-from-home policy samples, you can create your own policy in no time. Remember, trust is the key underlying factor to a successful WFH arrangement — during the pandemic and beyond.