Best practices for building work-from-home policies during COVID-19 and beyond.
By Sirmara Campbell
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have moved to a completely remote model to protect the workforce and prevent the spread of disease. Many of these employers have never had a 100 percent remote workforce, presenting challenges to management and employees. However, having specific policies in place to handle telecommuting can help now and when considering remote work in the future.
Work-from-home policies will differ depending on the organization, but some best practices can be used across industries.
- Gather input. Ensure that when these policies are written, the HR team is receiving feedback from different leaders at the company. Before writing the policies, discuss with executive leadership what working from home should look like and what goals they envision for this work-from-home mandate. After receiving input from executive leadership, gather feedback from department leads and managers so that the drafted policy reflects both the requirements of the pandemic and the needs of individual teams. For example, consider whether metrics-driven teams need different policies than a back-office function.
- Identify technology needs. Working from home means employees will rely on technology now more than ever, and ensuring employees have access to the software and hardware they need to succeed in their roles is vital. Start by working closely with the IT team to determine which tools and equipment will be needed. Will employees be using personal devices or will they be provided by the company? If the company can provide devices for workers, include specific guidelines on how the company expects those devices to be used.
- Ensure privacy and security. Working from home can create problems and complications in the security of company data. Protect employees from hacking or data breaches by utilizing a VPN platform if possible. If an organization does not have a VPN, articulate guidelines on how to treat sensitive company and client data. Dictate whether employees can use public WiFi or if they must be on a protected and private network. Work with IT to create processes for tech problems and reporting data breaches or phishing emails. Make the process simple and quick so that employees can report an issue as soon as it happens.
- Set expectations. Communicating work-from-home expectations to employees is vital. Employees must know what is expected of them and must be held accountable.
Be sure to outline reporting priorities and the progress to achieving them on a daily basis. A work-from-home policy will look different now than it did two months ago because of the emotional toll that COVID-19 has had on all employees. For instance, it’s important to include what benefits employees now have access to, including virtual telehealth and employee assistance programs.
Beyond communicating what is expected of them and the resources the company is providing, HR should also ensure employees know who to go to for support, including members of the leadership team or the HR department. Employees need to feel supported during these tumultuous times, and an effective work-from-home policy can achieve that.
Sirmara Campbell is chief HR officer for LaSalle Network.