Work from home, remote working and work from anywhere policies are hot off the press and a key area of focus for many employers. Although Covid-19 has been a prominent driver for organisations to reduce their reliance on the office environment, employee experience and engagement are the reason that companies now seek to make this a more permanent arrangement. Therefore, leaders in Human Resources are now working to build their remote working policies to show that working from home is here to stay.
However, it’s important when formalising your working from home procedure, that you don’t actually end up damaging employee engagement and morale by writing a policy document that seems stuffy and restrictive. So you can achieve this, we have designed this guide to help you write your remote working policy in a way that positively impacts employee experience and your employer brand.
- Ensure The Policy Has A Clear Purpose
When you begin to draw up your policy, set out exactly what you are trying to achieve. We recommend you focus this around employee experience and morale to ensure that it has the desired impact on engagement.
2. Define The Scope
Clearly define the scope and boundaries around the policy. You should answer questions such as who can work from home? And how often? A key tip at this stage is to be as simple and concise as possible so as not to confuse your team or give them the impression that the policy is unnecessarily restrictive.
3. Set Out The Communication Process
This refers to how employees tell you they are working from home. So as not to experience problems down the line, it is important to have an agreed process for someone to communicate to the team that they are working from home. This should be firm but not elaborate or contrived. While it should be clear that working from home cannot be ad-hoc and disorganised, employees shouldn’t be led to believe they need to jump through hoops to work remotely or plan their home working days too far in advance. Remember one of the foundations for working remotely is flexibility.
4. Consider When The Team May Need To Meet In Person
Will you have set in-office days or a way to ensure your employees join you for important meetings and team events? We recommend that where possible you have set days for specific teams to work in the office which will allow for advance planning of travel and meetings etc. This will ensure your employees do not feel like they are ‘on call’ therefore never developing true confidence in the policy.
5. Reasons Why People Can Work From Home
Often when you set out a new working from home policy, it is tempting to have an exhaustive list of reasons why your team may work from home. It is important to lead with trust here and think back to the purpose of your working from home policy. If you are focusing on employee experience, consider making the policy as flexible as possible. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you need to judge your teams’ reasons to work from home against one anothers and decide which ones warrant it and which don’t.
6. Define Working Hours
Writing your working from home policy is a good opportunity to reinforce your working hours and how flexible you are prepared to be with these. It is important to consider the desired outcome here and understand why and when you need your people. It may be enough for you to stipulate the number of hours per week that your team must work. This is the ideal scenario as this allows you to yield maximum productivity from your people as they will work at times that they are most productive. However, if you have specific times in the day that you need your team to work, for example, if they are client-facing, you may need to be a little more prescriptive. A good compromise is to have core working hours with a level of flexibility surrounding those. You could ask your team to be active between 10am and 2pm each day and work their balance of hours around that. If you are clear with your output expectations and KPIs, stipulating working hours may not be necessary at all so long as your team is producing the results you need.
7. Set Out Behavioural Expectations
Perhaps the most challenging area of writing your policy will be defining your behavioural expectations. The reason for this is that many who are wary of remote working feel this way as they do not have confidence their people will perform well. You may be tempted to try to prescribe dress codes, break times, office setups or even keeping an eye on instant messenger status, however once again it is essential to lead with trust. Keep your objectives in mind and try not to place a focus on anything that does not directly contribute to these. A key behavioural expectation should be to have open and honest communication which will serve to make your team more productive and more cohesive.
8. Consider Equipment And Tech Support
Consider if you will provide any extra equipment or financial support for your team as they set up their home office. You have a number of options here such as allowing employees to use their own devices to access a virtual desktop or issuing them with company laptops preloaded with all the relevant software. You must consider security and confidentiality both from a software and practical perspective. For example, you may want to insist that your team take client calls in private and store all work-related documents securely at home or in the office. This is also a good stage to set out how those working from home should access tech support when needed.
9. Performance and KPIs
You should communicate your teams’ KPIs clearly and concisely to them. These should be based on overall company objectives and should be on an annual, quarterly, monthly and sometimes even weekly basis. Consider how often you want line managers to meet with the team and break the KPIs down as far as possible to make them more manageable and digestible. A general rule of thumb is that the further you break down a goal the more likely your team is to meet it as they can clearly see how each activity contributes to the overall objective. A tip here is to keep KPIs relevant and teach employees how they relate to the overall company aim so as the team can understand their part in the bigger picture. Keep in mind that relevant KPIs are the only way to efficiently monitor performance whether your team is working remotely or in the office. Measuring your team based on time or visibility is usually ineffective and can even be counterproductive.
As you can see, we recommend keeping your working from home policy outcome-focused and avoiding the temptation to micromanage. In order for your new policy to have the desired impact on employee engagement, it must be communicated and executed in a way that truly makes your team feel valued. You do not want to give them the impression that you are ticking a box or following the crowd with the bare minimum concession.
Done correctly, your working from home policy should be an opportunity to boost employee morale and enhance your overall employer branding strategy. If you’d like to know more about how to maximise the strategic impact of your working from home policy, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nepturnal is an Employer Branding Agency based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We work with organisations throughout the UK and globally as partners to communicate with your ideal candidates and ensure they become an Employer of Choice in your industry. For those who wish to look after Employer Branding in-house, we provide a comprehensive training programme so you don’t need to miss out on the expertise. If you want to get serious about your brand, send us a note at email@example.com