Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been strongly advised to self-isolate as much as possible. In response, many companies are making the decision to implement voluntary or mandatory work from home policies.
For companies that have remote employees already, the transition to working from home will likely go more smoothly. But, for companies who don’t currently have a work from home policy, implementing one, especially this rapidly, can be a challenge.
Here are some tips for crafting and implementing a work from home policy that keeps employees safe while ensuring business operations continue.
- Survey your employees
This is especially important for companies that have most or all employees currently working in an office. If they primarily work from a desktop computer at the office, there’s a chance they do not have a laptop or desktop at home to work on. And while Internet is commonplace in the United States, there’s no guarantee that all your employees have the high-speed connection necessary to handle work demands.
Even if your employees do have a computer and Internet connection at home, you need to make sure they are the right tools for the job. Ask them about their operating systems and check the compatibility with your key software. Make sure they have a microphone and camera available to them for video conferencing (we’ll get to more on that later). Some companies may be under regulations that prohibits data from being accessed on personal machines. If this applies to your company, ensure that employees are provided with protected equipment when working from home.
If there is an employee who doesn’t have the necessary equipment to work from home, consider loaning them a company-issued laptop or offering to reimburse necessary expenses.
- Research your state’s workers comp policy
You’ll want to be sure your work from home policy protects from possible legal liabilities. For example, in New York, an employee whose home serves as a place for employment is protected by workers comp in their home if it’s a direct result of a work task.
It’s a good idea to consult a business lawyer to make sure your work from home policy does not increase your organization’s liability.
- Look to organizations around you
Many companies have already mandated remote work until further notice. Look to organizations of a similar size, location, and function to see how they are adjusting to remote work. If you have a good enough relationship with any of your clients or suppliers, you can also ask them how they are handling the situation from a business perspective.
There’s a lot that can be learned from companies that utilize a partially or completely remote workforce. This article shares the top companies for working from home that you can pull inspiration from for things like how to communicate and ensure that work gets done. During a trying time like this, a lot of companies are ready and willing to put aside competitive differences to help other organizations keep their staff safe.
- Utilize remote work tools
With today’s workforce becoming more digital and remote, there are a handful of tools out there that help teams collaborate and stay productive while working remotely. In fact, there are some companies that are offering remote working tools for free during the Coronavirus outbreak to facilitate the transition. While the specific tools you pick will be different based upon your individual business needs, you will want to get tools for:
- Project management: to track tasks and monitor their progress
- Instant messaging: for quick check-ins and casual “office talk”
- Video conferencing: to keep valuable, face-to-face interactions
- Collaboration platforms: for more in depth communication
In general, you’ll want to find tools that increase collaboration and give visibility into the workday, the same way in-person work would.
- Include key policy details
With all the uncertainty going on during this outbreak, you’ll want to add as much clarifying detail into your policy as possible. This includes items like when the policy extends until, when the policy will be reconsidered, what the work expectations are, and the protocol for contacting coworkers and management, and any other information you think you can include.
After these steps, you should be ready to distribute your work from home policy. Remember, this policy is intended to keep your employees safe during the pandemic, but also should keep your business operating as usual.