For employers looking to integrate working from home as a permanent option for employees, it’s important to set the terms of this arrangement early on to avoid any confusion or miscommunication. One way you can do this is by implementing a company-wide Working From Home Policy. This will let your employees know what you expect, what they can expect, and facilitate a smooth transition.
Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Customise your working from home policy to fit the needs of your business
Every business has different needs, work styles and goals. In this sense, no two businesses should have the exact same working from home policy.
Perhaps your business has certain teams which need to be in the office more than others. Or, your business largely depends on collaboration between different team members. If this is the case, you can include one or two compulsory office days per week or mandatory virtual meetings.
Alternatively, you may have found that your employees are thriving in a remote environment. If there’s no real need for your employees to come into the office, you might decide to leave the choice of whether they work from home part time or full time completely up to them.
2. Update your communication channels
One of the biggest concerns employers have when it comes to working from home is communication. However, if you introduce software which facilitates this, you’ll create seamless communication between you and your employees.
Applications such as Slack, Google Hangouts, and Zoom allow you to chat to employees in real time and keep communication consistent. It’s wise to specify which communication channels your business will be relying upon in your policy and ensure your employees know how to use them.
3. Keep working hours consistent
Many employees struggle to disconnect from work when they’re working from home, so be sure to remind your employees that once they log off at the end of the day, they should remain logged off. Employees who work from home don’t leave a physical office and have the same ‘switch off’ at the end of the day meaning that the lines between work and home can become blurred. One way you can help employees switch off is by having a short end-of-day meeting to wrap things up.
4. Have an employee engagement plan
One of the biggest criticisms remote working attracts is that employees run the risk of becoming disengaged. However, there are ways you can keep communication strong.
Daily check-ins with your remote members will make them feel like they are part of the team and ensure you’re on the same page. Beyond running formal meetings, company-wide social catch ups and virtual games (such as trivia) will allow employees to relax and socialise in a less formal setting.
It may not be the same as chatting by the watercooler, but it’ll boost employee morale across the board.
5. Tighten your business’s IT security
We’ve heard in recent months that scams have seen a sharp increase since many Australians have started to rely more on technology to work from home effectively. This is particularly relevant in cases where your employees are accessing a remote server which can be vulnerable to hacks.
It’s important to remember that applications such as Gmail and Zoom aren’t immune to data breaches. Adding extra layers of security such as two-factor authentication and regular password changes will lessen the likelihood that your business’s online systems will be compromised.
It’s also a good idea to educate your employees on what to look out for when it comes to email scams so they don’t fall victim. A lawyer can also give you advice on how to minimise your liability that any breaches occur.
Businesses have had to adapt to a new way of working in a remarkably short amount of time. However, the changes we’ve seen in workplaces over the past few months won’t be reverting to their pre-pandemic models any time soon. Working from home has been an adjustment for many businesses, but with a comprehensive policy in place your business will be in the best position to come out stronger on the other side.
Lawpath is Australia’s leading provider of online legal services for businesses and individuals, providing technology powered legal solutions at a fraction of the time, cost and complexity of the traditional system.