Employees working from home, also known as teleworking, is a common workplace option practiced around the world. If you are launching a work-from-home program, you can probably imagine the many ways that individuals will react once they’ve learned they might be able to work from home.
“Research shows that 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce said they would like to telework at least part of the week.”
Global Workplace Analytics
Upon hearing the news, hopeful teleworkers may be thinking:
- Great! No more meetings!
- How will I keep from being distracted at home?
- I can finally cut back on child care expenses.
- How will I keep my kids out of the office?
- Won’t it be great to sleep in late?
- If I’m away from the office, won’t I miss out on opportunities for advancement?
These aren’t exactly the kinds of reactions you may have expected to hear, but if you don’t provide information on the program purpose, objectives and guidelines, some may jump to their own incorrect conclusions. Program planners must be prepared to provide answers to these and many more questions in advance by following these four program development steps.
1. Establish the rules:
A policy is essential for the success of any home-based work activity. A policy defines who qualifies, how frequently they will work at home, expectations for separating work and family, guidelines on expenses that can be incurred, what equipment and services will be needed, and the conditions under which the telework privilege can be revoked.
2. Set the expectations:
If you don’t establish home-based working environment expectations, they will make likely it up. An individual with a home office should know and acknowledge they will be responsible to their manager for work accountability, productivity, professionalism, health, safety, & security, avoiding distractions, and separating work from family life.
3. Reduce the risks:
Working from home can introduce risks including injuries, theft, safety, security, overwork, data breaches, low performance, and more. The organization must provide each individual and their manager with the guidance, tools and processes to ensure risk reduction, plus remedies, procedures and reporting requirements for incidents.
4. Maximize home worker performance:
For a variety of reasons, worker performance can improve significantly in a remote work environment. Some managers discover the need to update their management skills, for instance, ensuring that team members are more accountable by measuring performance by work output instead of measuring ‘desk time.’ Mobile team members – and non-mobile team members – should be asked to track and communicate their work activities, milestones and accomplishments to make sure their manager is regularly up to date.
A work-form-home can be both complicated and rewarding
Allowing team members to work from home can be complicated as it has many moving parts. However, in this time of competitive recruiting for top talent, a telework option is known to be one of the first options candidates look for in making their decision to join an organization.
If you are part of the work-from-home planning team developing a new program, you’ve got only one chance to do this right. By setting the rules, establishing expectations, reducing risks and maximizing accountability and performance, the investment in your program will pay off for many years to come.
In fact, you’ll find that once your well designed telework program has been in place for a couple of years, working at home becomes so rewarding that you’ll wonder why you hadn’t launched it years earlier!
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