What Do We Know About “Work From Home?”
In order to understand the future, let’s try to have an idea about the origin of working from home. As most of us expect it to be, work from home is definitely not a new concept. It is with the rise and the access to technology that’s promoting the approach. All of us are familiar that remote workers weren’t born overnight, with the existence of the internet in the initial days of the 1980s. It was an extended concept even before the presence of downtown offices and commuting.
Even before the Industrial Revolution, the history of man’s evolution reveals that men were working from home selling handmade goods. It included carpenters, blacksmiths, potters, etc. But a little further, the industrial revolution led the people to move out of their homes to work in factories and workspaces. And immediately after world war 2, there began introducing office spaces with standard working times for the employees.
While everything seemed going well, the pandemic’s arrival, all of a sudden, led the entire world to the forceful work from the home condition. However, there is still a vast division among the workforce and the general public, who favor remote working while others don’t.
What’s The Impact Of Covid-19 On Work From Home?
The economic, as well as social shock that the Covid-19 presented, has likely reshaped wholly the perceptions of the individuals and the organizations regarding work leading to a considerable shift. It was the outbreak of covid-19 that led to a fortuitous scenario in experimenting with the work from home throughout the world within a few weeks of its arrival. Unexpectedly, the new scenario was very well embraced by the people, and the approach seemed appealing to the industries.
Some of the benefits experienced with work from home are as follows:
- Increased productivity
- Reduction in the expenses
- Environment friendly
- Well established professional and personal life balance
- Optimum utilization of technology
- Improved employee retention
- Agile and flexible
- Reduced absenteeism
- Enables support to focus
- Improved health and well-being, etc.
With these benefits and others, both the employers as well as employees found that shifting from traditional work practices to work from home would be a mutual benefit contributing to efficiency and effectiveness.
What Is The Approach Of The Employers Towards Remote working?
When talking from the management’s perspective, work from home has been an eye-opener for many, while some consider it a significant drawback. However, on average, the majority of employers are in favour of offering the employees a flexible work option.
What Is The Approach Of The Employees Towards Remote working?
A recent survey revealed that about 53% of employees are ready to quit if they are not offered flexible working hours and remote working. Especially after experiencing the benefits of remote working, which helps them manage a better work-life balance, working from home is becoming much of the Millennial worker’s primary requisite.
Will Work From Home Be The Future Of Work?
Concerning the statistics mentioned above, to a certain extent, we can predict that remote working is believed to stay for a longer time than what was expected earlier. Added to this, another factor that many of us overlook is the fact that more than 80% of the employees today are Millennials, whose attitude towards work is so very different from what it was previously.
The driving factors for the shift of the approach towards work are the evolution of technology and easy access. The Millennials possess higher potential, but then, they require the right platform that suits them and are very choosy about the way they want to perform. This attitude of the employees towards work can be taken advantage of by the management if they implement the right strategies with the right tools.
And one such aspect that enables a challenging atmosphere and higher productivity is the fact that the employees are provided with a flexible working hour. This way, there is a shared or a mutual benefit for both the employer and the employees. If there is a way for the businesses to skyrocket their organization with a cost-effective and most appealing procedure, why not go ahead with it?
Well, with the understanding of the importance and benefits of work from home and the fact that it is the new normal concept that will stay for a long time in the society, is it not essential to be prepared and equipped for the same? But then, the concern is “How?”
The decision of offering flexible work to the employees alone wouldn’t lead the business anywhere. As much as the organizations understand the positive aspects of work from home and its benefits, it is also important to figure out how to go about it. It’s because as much as advantageous the remote working could be, the same could turn out to be a more significant drawback if it’s not given proper consideration. Thus, there’s a need for a policy that defines all the norms of working from home according to the organization’s needs.
What Is Work From Home Policy?
An agreement among the employee and the employer, in which all the responsibilities and expectations are clearly mentioned for the employees who desire to work remotely is defined as work from home policy. Basically, it includes the eligibility, process to request, and the approval procedures related to working from home.
The ultimate motive of creating a work from home policy is to set, establish, and convey the norms to an organization’s employees on remote working aspects to ensure productivity without any hindrances or excuses. Therefore, many firms are taking a lot of consideration on what and how the policy is framed.
How To Build An Appropriate Work From Home Policy?
Now, as we know how important and essential a policy is concerning remote working, it is also necessary to figure out the crucial aspects of the policy. It helps the organization create a better policy. Here is a list of essential considerations for the policy mentioned. It may vary according to the nature, size, and functioning of the organization. However, these are the most common yet inevitable aspects.
Define The Eligibility
It isn’t necessary that the work from home option is offered to all the organization’s employees. It depends on the organization as to whom the option is available. The determinant factors may include the number of years served in the company, profile or designation, behaviour or productivity of the employee, etc. Based on these, the organization can list the eligibility criteria for who can opt for remote working.
However, when there’s a health crisis like COVID-19, it may become mandatory for all the employees to work remotely, irrespective of eligibility. Thus, to avoid misunderstandings, it would be better to have the criteria already mentioned.
Determine The Approval Process
Once the criteria are all set, you need to determine and convey to the employees how to apply for the remote working option. Along with this, how and to whom are they expected to submit the application, what are the due dates, etc. This process has to be strictly maintained by the approving managers as well as the employees.
Set Up The Working Hours
Despite working from home, it would be better for the companies to set timings for the employees to work, and that is to be followed. This has to be mentioned in the policy itself and ensure that the employees are well aware of the same. There can be flexibility in case of unavoidable circumstances; however, even these fluctuations are to be mentioned in the policy to ensure that there are no miscommunications later.
Create Availability Standards
One of the concerns that the manager may face is that he cannot go to a particular workforce’s cabin to check what’s happening with him, unlike the office’s times. And while they are working from home, it’s challenging to gather everyone together at the same time, even through the virtual form. Therefore, it becomes crucial that the management already defines the time for common meetings and conferences so that employees make themselves available despite remote working.
Streamline Communication Channels
Communication is one aspect that is observed to be affected the most. However, thanks to technology, various platforms, and tools that make communication feasible and possible. Although many choices are available now, it depends on the management to make the tool’s right choice.
It is also quite necessary to make sure that the same tools are made available to the employees too. Along with this, it is also needed as to how the human resource department processes their workflow without any hindrance because certain aspects like attendance, payroll, etc., cannot be overlooked. Hence, in this case, the organization being equipped with one of the best HRMS software is vital.
Provision Of Technical Support
To ensure a smooth workflow despite remote working, it is necessary to ensure that the workforce is equipped with the assets, including a computer system, internet connection, etc., according to the profile’s needs. Suppose, if the company is providing technical support, the policy has to include the norms and the ways to handle the assets.
Maintenance Of Data Security
Since now, the scenario is such that your company’s data, either confidential or not, is not bound within the four walls of the company’s infrastructure. Due to the remote working, as much as your employees are scattered, so is your data and information.
Therefore, it is vital that the policy you create should include data security norms and how you want to maintain the same. Because the more the data is scattered, the more the security has to be enhanced.
Define The Dress Code
Etiquettes are very important in life. And it’s quite important not to take personal advantage of remote working. Even though the workforce is working from home, they still are to deal with colleagues, clients, managers, etc., representing the company. Hence, if the policy has the dress code included and other related aspects, the employees are bound to follow and thereby enhance their professional ability.
Determine The Monitoring Method
With the immense growth of technology, there are many software available to help organizations monitor the employees despite the distance. The management can take advantage of these tools to ensure workflow as well as productivity. However, to define the same in the policy is important to make the employees aware and not let anything be a hindrance.
Maintenance Of Culture
As much as getting the work done is vital for the management, so should be the interest in maintaining the culture and standard among the workforce. The collaboration, communication, understanding among the teammates, and the organization’s overall well-being can never be overlooked.
It would also be better to include the teammates’ unofficial gatherings in the policy, which enhances the oneness and a sense of belonging to the organization. This, in the end, will indeed contribute to employee engagement and increased productivity.
How To Deal With The Violation Of The Policy
So far, we have tried to understand the different aspects of building a policy and what to include. Yet, the future is so unpredictable. Therefore, it is vital to define in the policy the treatment of violating the policy. This is to ensure that the employees are aware of the consequences and enables them to implement and practice the norms defined in the policy strictly, and results in the reduction of mishaps.
All of us are indeed aware of the commonly used phrase, “Precaution is better than cure.” Similarly, being equipped in all possible ways for the future, despite the fact that remote working will stay or not, is very essential for a business. In some cases, it might pose the question of survival. A well-built policy will assist in a smooth workflow, fewer misunderstandings, and an increased commitment.
However, all the benefits of remote working and its policy can be achieved only when the employees are educated about the norms and are ready to oblige by them. Hence, it is also the management’s responsibility to make sure about the employee’s acceptance and implementation.
Divyang Metaliya is a Business Consultant. Apart from managing and improving business processes, his hobby is to spread his vast area of knowledge to the people out there. He loves to create content that is innovative and engaging for the readers.