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Create a work-from-home policy for your business

An employer’s guide to setting up employees who must work from home

Whether you are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic or want to offer your employees more flexible ways of working, you will need an appropriate policy in place. Having a comprehensive work-from-home policy is essential for all organisations looking to offer remote working.

At the time of writing, many countries are enforcing or advising self-isolation, and many others may implement similar measures. While the recent pandemic has prompted many organisations to offer and facilitate remote working, there are many other good reasons for employees to work from home. For example, working from home can mean people spend less time commuting and more time achieving a work-life balance. In turn, this can help promote positive mental and physical health, increased productivity and can support talent attraction and retention strategies. However, many workforces are still reluctant to adopt remote working, with deterrents including employer-employee trust, providing equipment and health and safety regulations.

Working from home is already becoming increasingly popular – around 70% of the world’s professional population works remotely at least once per week. This trend is only expected to grow, particularly as it’s being adopted by the younger generation, with 69% younger managers allowing team members to work from home. Within the next three years, it is anticipated that the number of full-time employees working remotely will rise to 40%.

What is a work-from-home policy?

If you are going to enable your employees to work from home, it is important to have a policy in place that establishes an understanding of what is expected from all parties. The document should align with the organisation’s core values and improve its employee value proposition (EVP) — for many, getting to work from home is an attractive benefit of working for that organisation. Incorporate your values into the policy: for example, if reliability and consistency are at the core of your business, relay that you expect those working remotely to remain reliable and consistent with their work.

What should a work-from-home policy include?

The policy should start by establishing its purpose, and what employees should be able to take away from it. It should then establish the purpose of working from home, and what is expected of employees who do so.

For example, “[COMPANY NAME] aims to enable its employees to work to their full potential, no matter their lifestyles or schedules. Understanding that travelling into the office every day is not always possible or ideal, [COMPANY NAME] has created a work from home policy that can provide convenience for staff while ensuring the same standards of productivity. This agreement will outline when working from home is acceptable, and what is expected from those who work from home.”

Procedure

You should be clear about when employees need to inform senior members of staff — as well as who they should inform — that they will be working remotely. Can they let you know the morning of, or does it need to be discussed a week in advance? Outlining the procedure is very important and can avoid any misunderstandings that will ultimately disrupt your operations.

Quantity and quality

When creating a work-from-home policy, you should clearly state that you expect the same levels of productivity as you would when working in the office — both in terms of quantity and quality. If you have specific figures you expect then feature them, but a lot of operations will find quantifying work a difficult task, as it varies so often.

When can your employees work from home?

As well as including both expectations of the quantity and quality of the work, the policy should also feature information for your employees about when it is suitable to work from home. Each organisation’s policy will vary, with some allowing staff to permanently work remotely, or whenever they want to, while others will only be in the event of an emergency.

Many policies feature these reasons for eligibility:

  • Bad weather
  • Parenting
  • Medical reasons and appointments
  • Commuting
  • Work-life balance
  • Emergencies

Policies may also vary between staff, as some members may be required to be at home more often due to family commitments. Whatever your approach, make it clear to your staff.

Timing

Once you have established the circumstances under which someone can work from home, it is important to agree on core working hours. If you already have a set time for everyone to arrive and leave, then this doesn’t have to change. However, many organisations allow more flexible hours — you may want to set core hours your employees must work in, or a period in which they are allowed to take their lunch break.

Communication

As methods of communication will change when employees start working remotely, it is important to clarify how you will speak with each other and how other members can best get it touch. You may expect one video call a day, for staff to check in with their managers, or have an instant messenger platform for everyone to use such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. By clarifying which communication tools should be used or creating the necessary channels and infrastructure — and agreeing how often they should be utilised — you are ensuring the distance between colleagues will not lead to any disruption.

Security

If members of staff are working from home, you still need to ensure data and device security is upheld. If employees opt to use their own devices at home, this could jeopardise an organisations security measures by introducing viruses. It is important to establish a bring your own device (BOYD) policy. Using public WiFi can also put your online safety at risk, as they aren’t secure. Your policy may state that everyone who works from home has to use a work laptop, or that any devices used for work must have the appropriate firewalls or antiviruses.

Expenses

Working from home may involve different expenses to the ones that would be acquired by going to the office. You may be required to pay for software, phone calls or at-home office supplies. You should clearly state what the organisation is willing to cover, and what will have to be provided by the employees themselves — you don’t want staff claiming reimbursement over what they thought they were due.

Work-from-home policy for COVID-19

You may be introducing a work-from-home policy to issue during the pandemic, as people in many regions are advised to avoid physical human contact and travel. You may be introducing the policy for the short- or long-term, which may change specific terms. For example, during the pandemic, you may be more flexible about working hours, as many employees may have to look after and teach their children from home, as well as work. If this is the case, make sure you are explicit abut which terms are temporary.

For whatever reason you have decided to introduce remote working into your operations, ensure that all members of staff have a good understanding of the procedure. From when is appropriate to work from home to what is expected from working hours and workloads, your policy should clearly state all the required information for everyone involved.

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You have been redirected to an Aetna International site. InterGlobal is now part of Aetna, one of the largest and most innovative providers of international medical insurance. We have combined our businesses to create one market-leading health care benefits company. This means we can better serve people who depend on Aetna International and InterGlobal to meet their health and wellness needs.

UltraCare policies in Vietnam are insured by Baoviet Insurance Corporation Limited, and reinsured by Aetna Insurance Company Limited, part of Aetna International. You can access our plans by following the links below:

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