Seven steps to create a 'work from home' policy

There are many attractions, for employers and employees alike, in having a work from home programme. For many, the benefit comes from a better work/life balance, but other advantages include increased employee productivity and motivation as well as ‘green’ benefits.

If you have employees working from home, even if it is just one day a week, you must have clear guidelines in your ‘work from home’ policy. Not paying attention to detail can have serious implications, particularly if your employee is not monitored properly or the safety of their home is not up to standard. 

In light of the rapid switch to remote/home working for many organisations in 2020, it is crucial that you revise your policy. If you do not have one, be sure to take the time to implement one. Some of the things to consider are outlined below.

1. Who gets to work from home?

Every employee is different, and you need to be able to recognise which of your workers will be productive working from home. People who need a strict routine to produce results may not be best suited to home working.

In the current climate, you may not have had the chance to review who can work from home, as the directive from the government instructs anyone who can work from home to do so. Considering this, you will likely need to provide additional support to your employees to help them manage this new way of working. 

2. Equipment requirements

Depending on the nature of your business, you may have to provide your employee with extra technology for their home. For example, are you going to ask them to use their own computer or will you supply a laptop?

3. Health and safety

Employers have different levels of responsibility for employees working from home; you might need to include language in your policy that allows you to access their home to review hazard risks.

4. Company security

Information and documentation from your organisation will be trusted to the employee outside of the company. It is not just the employee you need to think about, what about other people entering their home? How do you regain documents if the work relationship ends?

5. Monitoring performance

Many organisations use software that tracks employee input, but if this is not suitable for your line of work, how will you ensure your employees are working to optimum levels? You should think about how often you will need contact with home workers, even if it is just by email.

As many organisations are now operating completely remote processes, we compiled an article that explores how to overcome challenges in managing performance while working from home.  

6. What are your employees’ motivations?

You should make it clear in your policy if you expect employees to treat their working day at home as though they were at the office. For example, they should not think of working from home as an alternative to hiring childcare. However, it is important to consider the wider implications of the current restrictions that may impact your team’s personal obligations. 

Childcare may very well be a significant consideration that your staff must now work around at home. So, as a manager, you may need to adjust the way you approach this, - as a start, why not review our five tips on managing a team remotely?

7. Wording your policy

The more detailed your policy is, the easier it will be to sort out any disagreements regarding an employee’s rights.

The policy should also outline the working hours you expect from anyone working from home, which is why it’s so important to be able to monitor performance. If you require regular updates, you should state whether the employee will be required to come into the office and how often – if it is safe to do so. 

You should discuss the language of your policy and any risk assessment procedures with your legal department. For more information read the government legislation: Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

This information is intended as a guideline only. To find out what’s appropriate for your business, please get in touch with your own HR or legal department or external advisors.

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