Allowing employees to work from home even just one day a week can improve employee loyalty and satisfaction, serve as a reward and motivation, and even save your business money on utilities and office space. But to maximize the benefits of remote work, it’s important to follow some do’s and don’ts.
- Don’t expect remote workers to be at their desks 9 to 5. The whole point of remote work is to enable flexibility for your team—and to give you the option of hiring the best people for the job, even if they live outside your time zone.
- Do set clear expectations for remote workers. Both remote workers and those at the office should know what to expect. For instance, you may want remote workers to be available during certain “core hours” of the day to answer calls or interact with in-office employees and then give them flexible hours the rest of the time. Include expectations for remote workers in your employee handbook.
- Do make a plan for regular communication. Communication is key to the success of any remote work program. Choose how and when you and your in-house staff will communicate with remote workers. For instance, you may want to have a regular Monday morning conference call or daily 10-minute check-in. Outside of that, will email, chat or some type of project management app be your preferred communication method?
- Don’t forget to include remote workers in company activities. It’s important to keep remote workers involved, both virtually and in real life, so they feel they’re still part of the team. Invite them to company events, both formal (sales conferences) and informal (Friday happy hour) and require them to come at least some of the time.
- Do be fair about who gets to work from home. You may not be able to give all employees the option to work from home, but you do need to be fair about it. For instance, you can’t let one employee work at home and forbid another with the exact same job from doing it. You can, however, set standards employees must meet to work from home, such as meeting certain quotas or performance ratings.
- Don’t micromanage remote workers. No one likes to be micromanaged, and remote workers, in particular, may feel you don’t trust them if you are always looking over their shoulders. Give remote workers tasks to do, make sure they have the tools to do them, and let them handle the details of how they plan to accomplish those tasks.
- Do occasionally assess your work-at-home program. Don’t let remote workers drift without direction. While you shouldn’t micromanage them, you should check in occasionally to see how things are going and if they need help or guidance. Also regularly assess how well the work-at-home program is functioning, take suggestions from employees and make any needed changes.
- Don’t neglect cybersecurity measures. Working from home can expose your business to cybersecurity risks when employees use unsecured home computers or networks. Protect your business by making sure any cloud-based file sharing and storage apps employees use have security measures appropriate to your industry. Set up security features such as two-factor authentication to log in to your networks and a virtual private network (VPN) for access to your business files.
- Do put the right technology in place. From videoconferencing tools and project management software to chat apps, there are plenty of options to help streamline virtual communication with your remote workers. In addition to these tools, consider providing remote workers with up-to-date, appropriate hardware (such as laptops, headsets and mobile devices)—it will help boost their productivity wherever they are.