We live in challenging times and the impact of the coronavirus worldwide on health and the economy continues to startle us daily. Giving statistics at this point doesn’t make sense since they change by the day if not the hour.
In the United States, many people working in the food, entertainment, and manufacturing industries find themselves laid-off. The practice of social distancing or not coming within six feet of another human to hinder the spread of the virus doesn’t work in these industries.
Good news does exist for many other employees and employers, however. Technology does exist for many people to work from home. And, in the time of this crisis, keeping as many people working and receiving paychecks as possible represents a crucial tenet in keeping our society going and recovering from the fallout once this crisis finally comes to an end.
Why is a work from home policy needed?
With more people working from home than ever, we can’t just hand them the keys and wish them luck. With employees suddenly thrown into the work from home pool, we need to construct well-defined policies and procedures.
Companies need to conduct an upfront meeting with people who work from home or will soon work from home to set expectations. Employees should know the boundaries such as break times and conducting other household chores such as laundry or making dinner while they’re waiting for a customer call, for example. Knowing the level of accountability expected will also help raise employee productivity.
Rewards of working from home:
Of course, employees already working from home know advantages exist for them. They save money on transportation costs, clothing, food, and in some cases, childcare costs. But tremendous benefits also fall into place for the employer:
- Increases productivity due to employees not logging in late
- Employees who work from home demonstrate more loyalty
- Reduced sick pay since employees don’t spread contagious illnesses to each other
- Less time and money spent on training since employees stay on the job longer
- A sharp decrease in overhead costs such as utilities, equipment, and other supplies needed for employees
- Improvement in morale
- Reduces the chances of workplace injuries
Implementing a work from home program that works for everyone:
In a typical work situation in which a pandemic doesn’t take center stage, employers usually possess plenty of time to determine who should or can work from home. In most cases, an employee needs to prove their effectiveness through statistics or metrics. Sometimes employees end up working from home due to logistical reasons. But, with the coronavirus wreaking havoc in the business world, the need to establish a guideline for working at home takes on a new urgency.
- Establish the technical tools and skills employees will need to work from home. If they need to use their own computer, do they possess one that will handle the required software?
- Make sure employees follow a defined schedule, including assigned times for lunch and breaks.
- Maintain a strong connection and frequent communication with the Human Resource department.
- Review your plan frequently and revise it as needed.
- Thorough and regular performance reviews with employees to keep them informed need to take place.
- Expect a reasonable learning curve, especially for those who entered into the work from home model unexpectedly.
Accessing the readiness of an employee to work from home:
In addition to confirming an employee possesses a computer that works with the company software and the technical skills to navigate the software, other considerations come into play to make sure the employee not only feels comfortable but qualifies as compliant in their new situation:
- The employee possesses a reasonable understanding of the procedure of their job and the policies of the company. They should complete an appropriate training program before setting up an office at home.
- The employee either lives alone or if other people live in the household, they need a room where it’s possible to close the door.
- If sensitive client information makes up part of the position, they need to follow the procedure to keep those confidential.
- The home office area should not experience noise interruptions such as blaring televisions, children playing, or dogs barking.
Other advantages of working from home:
In addition to the benefits that impact the employer and the employee, working from home represents ways in which it helps the entire planet:
The health of the environment improves when people work from home.
- They don’t drive or take public transportation to work, thereby significantly decreasing the greenhouse gas emissions.
- With fewer cars on the road, fuel usage decreases.
- Offices use a lot less fuel to either heat or air condition a large area. A home office not only represents cost efficiency when it comes to climate control but an environmental advantage as well.
- Working from home reduces paper waste significantly and creates less garbage
Personal safety improves when more people work at home.
- Of course, because people don’t share equipment, bathrooms, and put their finger in the office candy dish, employee illness will reduce (and so will the Coronavirus). And, if a worker gets a cold from her three-year-old, she won’t bring it to the office
- Since they’re in their own homes, the risk for an office injury decreases dramatically.
Of course, we don’t know when the pandemic crisis will end or even subside. But, companies that possess the technology to allow people from home offers a great advantage and service to the employee and the economy.
People who work for healthcare companies who provide answers and direction to those concerned or dealing with the virus possess particular importance. Additionally, those taking food and medicinal orders represent a special need. But, any position that helps maintain some normalcy in these uncertain times deserves credit.
In many situations, working from home makes economic and environmental sense for the employer and employee. If any silver lining exists in the coronavirus crisis, perhaps realizing the benefits of the work at home model represents one.
To make things easier as you transition to remote workers, eBillity is offering an extended 30-day trial to Time Tracker (use code HOMEOFFICE). Time Tracker will allow your company to track time, schedule staff, reduce administration time and make payroll easy.