10 Keys to Making Working From Home Work

Employees Working Remotely 10 Keys to Making It Work

Working from home is the dream for many people, but making it work can be tricky, both as the employer and the employee. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the hand of many offices, however, and more people are working from home than ever before. What follows are 10 key ways to making remote work, for you, your employees, and your clients.

One silver lining to the work-from-home trend is that it appears that a remote workforce is robust, productive, and often happier. With that in mind, remote work isn't without its technical glitches and special considerations. To be successful for both you and your employee, this list will help you mitigate the risks and maximize the results. 

10 Keys to Making Work-From-Home Work

1. Home work environment

With a home office, it needs to mirror that lack of distraction as much as possible, but it's not always that easy when kids and spouses are at home as well. One way to help your employees minimize distractions is to ensure they have headsets that allow them to block noise and communicate on Skype or Zoom. 

Is the home workspace well-lit, ventilated and with a clear escape in the case of a fire? This workspace still poses a liability for your company to consider. Additionally, your employees need to be able to complete their jobs without spending their own money on a set-up, so do you have laptops or tablets to loan out, and what are your requirements for securely lending them to your employees?

  • Ensure your employees have the necessary equipment to perform the essential functions of their jobs from home, and as distraction-free as possible
  • Make a policy that outlines rules for lending equipment and secure transfer of files from the office to the home and back again
  • Determine if the space is safe in terms of human hazards - fire, smoke, ventilation, etc
  • Create rules governing the reimbursement of internet, office supplies, printer ink, and whether you will provide them

2. Cybersecurity

It's imperative that your employees follow best-practices for securing the information they create when transferring it to your office or your clients. Some aspects of ensuring this practice are:

  • Ensure your IT department is up-to-date on work-from-home risk factors
  • Consider having dedicated work computers rather than allowing employees to work from home on a personal laptop
  • Have employees use a VPN for all sensitive data transmissions
  • Schedule yearly remote work cybersecurity training for all employees
  • Consider cloud recovery for data in case of a computer breakdown or theft

3. Communication

Supervision in remote work can feel either extremely distant or overbearingly micromanaged. It's important to strike a balance - a once a week one-on-one with your direct employees can help keep everyone on top of what's going on. Additionally:

  • Utilize Zoom and Skype to meet up, as these tools are highly effective and just about as good as staff meetings
  • Create a strategy for determining if you're paying for a work phone, cellphone minutes, and what the employee is required to pay for as well
  • Encourage departmental meetings, weekly or monthly, to keep collaboration open and flowing

4. Accountability

Much like the weekly check-ins we talked about, using various software tools to keep your employees accountable is encouraged. Apps like Trello and Basecamp can help you see at a glance what your employees are working on, how long its taking them, and where they might need help.

If you have trouble with time tracking, Toggl can help coach employees who are having trouble staying on top of productivity, or new employees that require assistance in learning task prioritization and time management. Be aware, however, that these apps open the door for extreme micromanaging which will drive employees off. Nobody likes to feel like their employer is breathing down their neck.  

5. Liability

If someone gets hurt or sick in your office, you're liable. How does that translate to remote work? You need to draft a plan with your legal team to determine where your liability ends, and how you can help employees without insinuating yourself. You should also consider how employee travel to and from work affects your liability.

Consider revamping your website to ensure clear access to HR policies, rules and regulations, and employee assistance (OSHA, DoL, etc), are available. It will help cut down on potential questions if something regarding liability does occur later.

6. Files and information

Ensure that all employees know how to remove files from the worksite - how to track them, keep them secure, and return them in a timely manner. Make a plan to ensure private data is transmitted and stored securely, and check with each employee to see what their personal plans are for securing sensitive data at their homes.

7. Employee assistance and well-being

Working form home blurs that balance between our jobs and our families. It can make life in general more stressful, so ensure you have an employee assistance program in place. Many insurance companies offer something like this to promote work-life balance, but you can find a company external to your benefits program. 

Make sure you're not burning your employees out by trying to make them available 24/7 and don't encourage a work environment that expects them to respond to emails at 9:00 pm.

8. Transportation to the worksite

Consider if your remote work employees need to come to the office, are they to be reimbursed? Remote work opens up the possibility to hire from outside your geographical area - if you expect all employees to be onsite for something, do you pay for the travel for those who are out of the state, or do you exempt them?

Draft a plan and stick with it; pay-per-mile, gas reimbursement, or plane/train tickets are all considerations.

9. Ensure proper safety

We touched on this before, but your employees need to be able to escape in the event of a fire or other catastrophe. Consider having them develop a basic plan and submit it to you, so that you know they're safety is considered, and they know what to do.

10. Speak with your insurance about coverage

Of course you'll still provide insurance to your employees, but what falls under work comp when employees aren't on-site? Do you need to cover auto accidents for when people are commuting to the office, or third-party data breaches from improper information storage on remote work sites? 

You can also consider that remote work can be a way to accommodate employees with mobility issues or who have disabilities.

Remote work can be highly beneficial to everyone

Remote work can be seen as an enticing piece of your employee benefits. Even if it's not daily, the option of remote work at times is highly desirable, and it also allows you to broaden your search pool when looking for new candidates. The technology exists to make virtual workstations productive, convenient and secure.

As long as all the liability and costs are clearly stated (who is paying for internet access, for instance), then both parties can enter into a remote work situation with total understanding of the circumstances. Remote work is here to stay, and adopting a clear, concise policy regarding it sooner rather than later will only help you and your employees in the future.

 

Business is risky - your insurance partner shouldn't be

 

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