Designing and Implementing an Effective Work from Home Policy
Need for Effective Work from Home Policies
With work from home and remote working becoming quite popular and the norm in many organizations, it is imperative that Human Resource (HR) Managers think about ways and means to design and implement effective work from home policies.
Indeed, with remote work being reported by nearly half of the employees in major corporations in surveys and studies, organizations more than ever need a well thought out and rigorously implemented Work from Home (WFH) policy.
The key point to note is that the WFH policy must serve the interests of all stakeholders and not only the employers or the employees alone.
WFH and Misuse
To start with, it is better if HR Managers define what is meant from WFH for employees lest they are under the impression that they can do remote work whenever and wherever they want. In other words, the WFH policy must not be misused or abused by lazy employees seeking to escape their work and responsibilities.
On the other hand, employers and most importantly, the immediate managers of supervisors of the employees must not cherry pick the employees who are allowed to WFH which means that there needs to a common yardstick that is applied to all employees and not only to the Manager’s favorites.
For instance, a well designed WFH policy would take care of these aspects by specifying the base expectations and norms that employees and managers are required to follow.
This can take the form of a WFH policy that aims to make employees fulfill their work responsibilities even when they are working remotely.
Thus, the deliverables and the outcomes from remote work must be the same as those that other employees who are working in the office are expected to fulfill. This means that WFH must not become a synonym for shirking work and taking the organization for a ride.
WFH and Favoritism
On the other hand, the employees too must not be taken for granted when permitting them to work from home.
This can take the form of a WFH policy that is consistent and applicable to all employees. For instance, the usual practice of allowing remote work at the discretion of the managers must be tempered with clear guidelines about the kind of situations that warrant working from home.
This can include women employees who are expecting and those among them who have had deliveries in recent months as well as those with family responsibilities.
WFH and Women Employees
Indeed, the need for a WFH policy is felt acutely in these cases as women employees often feel that they are not able to balance their professional and personal commitments due to them having to take care of young children, infants, and other family members.
Having said that, it is also not the case that all women employees are allowed to work remotely irrespective of their personal situations and professional standing. The reason for this is that a lenient WFH can be misused by others who do not have genuine and valid reasons to work from home.
Implementing the WFH Policy
On the other hand, a WFH arraignment should not lead to employees missing meetings and other important commitments. Of course, it can be argued that Skype and VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) dial-ins can be used as a means for the remote workers to participate in calls and teleconferences.
While this can indeed be done, the bottom line is that employees must be asked to attend in person whenever the situation demands.
Indeed, even those employees who work from home for extended periods must be asked to report to the managers and HR managers in person every now and then so that there is a confirmation about the genuineness and authenticity of the reasons for remote work.
One of the main reasons why many employees request remote work is that medical and personal emergencies often mean that they cannot attend office and at the same time, due to the criticality of the professional commitments, they cannot proceed on leave as well.
Thus, a well designed WFH policy would take care of these competing demands for time by Smart Working arrangements where employees with dire personal emergencies are also able to contribute to the organization by balancing their personal and professional commitments.
Apart from that, a well designed WFH policy must also be rigorously implemented and monitored for compliance.
This can take the form of the immediate managers and the HR Managers reviewing such arrangements with the concerned employee(s) from time to time to evaluate whether all sides are on the “same page” wherein neither work is shirked nor employees suffer.
This is the crux of a well designed and rigorously implemented WFH policy that leads to a healthy Work Life Balance and actualizes a work environment that is fulfilling and leads to engaged and motivated employees.
Conclusion: A WFH Policy that works
Lastly, with remote work becoming common, it is high time for all organizations to come up with a coherent WFH policy that meets the organizational requirements as well as satisfies the needs of the employees.
With rapid advances in communications and computing technologies, it is our view that personal presence in the office would soon become redundant when taken together with the need to save money and energy from not commuting.
To conclude, recent research has found that remote work is often more productive than working in the office as well as can be misused at times. Thus, the challenge for contemporary HR Managers is to actualize an effective WFH policy.
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