If your company doesn’t have a work-from-home policy yet, now may be the time to put one in place. Telecommuting employees enjoy better work-life balance, lower transportation expenses and reduced stress.
Employees aren’t the only ones who can reap the rewards of work-from-home options. Employers benefit from lower office-space and overhead costs and can recruit from a wider, more geographically diverse talent pool, not to mention enjoying happier, more productive staff members.
But to be successful, your business’s work-from-home policy must be well designed, clearly outlining expectations and addressing key areas of concern. Here are a few factors to keep in mind to ensure success with telecommuting.
Address the Management Gap
Not all employees work best under the same conditions. Certain individuals will be more productive at home, while others will require more supervisor attention to stay motivated and on track. Even for those who do work more effectively from their home offices, there should be a system of consistent management check-ins.
Set clear expectations about the employee-supervisor relationship within the work-from-home setup. Establish specific protocols about how staff members will track their progress on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, and require the managers on your team to have regular one-on-ones via phone or Skype with any remote employees they oversee.
You should also outline what’s expected of staff members working from home on an individual basis in order to have clear measures of productivity and success. Establish timelines for completing major projects, set deadlines for key deliverables, and create goal-based objectives for each employee to complete within a specific time frame.
Establish In-Office Expectations
Employees who work remotely most of the time may still need to be present for team meetings, performance reviews, major company events and other functions. Your work-from-home policy should also clearly outline how often staff members are expected to come to the office.
Alternatively, you could set a specific number of work-from-home days granted to each employee per month. You may also want to establish policies around which days of the week they can take advantage of the perk so that you and your management team can easily schedule any meetings in which you want the entire staff present. Strike a balance between what employees want — to work from home on Fridays, for example — and what works best for the business.
Here are a few other factors to keep in mind when ironing out the details of your work-from-home policy:
- Clarify that remote-work privileges may need to be curtailed if employee productivity lags.
- Make sure employees’ home offices are equipped with the technology they need.
- Specify what hours remote employees must be available by phone or email in case customers, managers or colleagues need to reach them.
Tailor the specifics of these points to your business’ specific needs and goals, and consider a trial period to see how well the policy works before putting it into full effect.
When communicating the change to your team, stress the importance of open communication and adherence to the guidelines. If your work-from-home policy is clearly articulated and well thought out, it can be a highly effective perk that motivates employees, attracts top talent and adds real value to your business.
Sandy Baker is a full-time freelance writer specializing in health, personal finance and Internet marketing. Her long-term history online has included publications with companies including Marriott Hotels, The New York Times and dozens of other small and medium-sized businesses. She is also published in print with award-winning books such as The Complete Guide to Estate Planning, Complete Guide to Early Retirement, The Complete Bankruptcy Guide for Consumers and Small Businesses and The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care.