So you are over the first phase of managing the Work From Home (WFH) initiative for your employees. This was done in crisis mode with little preparation just to meet the short term needs of the business. Now it looks like the WFH environment will continue for weeks or months and there are some procedures that need to be put in place.
The new workplace environment should no longer be considered temporary. Guidelines need to be established regarding the employee’s dedicated workspace. While it may have been cute to have children playing nearby during the first few weeks, guidelines should be establish describing what a dedicated space looks like, for example, bordered off with screens, separate rooms and such. It is important to be sensitive to the home situation of each employee, consider having a checklist of minimum requirements or suggestions on how to make one’s home office more efficient.
Security is another issue that must be addressed. This would include carrying out regular security tests on the network as well as the devices used by employees or customers interacting with the business. This is critical as the network usage has changed resulting in possibly more vulnerable points. This would help secure business data on personal and company-owned devices. Having a WFH policy that describes how the employee needs to treat company assets like data, reports and physical assets is important. In many cases, the employee confidentiality agreement needs to be updated and re-signed to include WFH clauses.
Many provinces have Provincial Telecommuting Policies issued by the Workers Compensation Board that need to be considered to establish under what circumstances the employee is covered for WFH. For example, Alberta’s policy states that “Employers should consider drafting a formal telecommuting agreement with any staff working remotely.” It also describes how that Board determines whether a WFH injury is covered or not.
Communication is another important factor to consider in working from home. When employees are isolated from their coworkers, this could cause employees to not fully appreciate the big picture or be less committed to their organization. This, in turn, may decrease productivity or even cause employees to question their self-worth.
To avoid this, structured daily check-ins should be set up with an agenda and goals for the day. Communication protocols for urgent communication should be established versus status updates. For example, urgent communication could involve texting or the phone while regular updates would be done through emails.
Managers should share information such as the best method and time each one can be reached during the day. For example, early in the morning is best for me either by phone or email.
Set aside time for informal get-togethers like virtual pizza lunches having pizza delivered to participants. And remember that not everyone shines at Zoom like parties, loud extroverts of the group tend to hog the limelight, while the quieter deep thinkers just hang back and it’s up to the managers to make sure that everyone is being heard.
We are in a new world with lots of uncertainties, but managing work from home processes should not be one of them.
Share your unexpected challenges and what was done to address them. For example, what do you do with employees who decided to stay in place at their cottage where there is limited bandwidth. Does your company pay for expanded bandwidth? Share your response below.