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Define Your Work From Home (WFH) Program to Improve Productivity

Whether your business is like Facebook – and considering instituting a permanent work from home program for all staff – or you’re faced with on-going requests for temporary work from home assignments to accommodate real life issues employees have balancing work, health and families, instituting a formal Work From Home Program will help assure accountability and impartiality when implementing your program.

A strong Work From Home Program should include policies for employee participation but will also detail practices the employer expects to enact to ensure accountability.

When preparing your policies, start by defining the criteria for working from home. What positions or departments are eligible? What equipment or amenities will be provided? Is asynchronous work acceptable or do all employees need to perform their tasks during the same business hours?

Documenting processes will go a long way towards ensuring accountability among workers that you do not see on a daily basis. If you specify how things are to be done, and can estimate how long it will routinely take, you can better envision the daily activities of your out of sight, WFH staff.

Establish a communications policy. Outside of one-way broad reach email communications and regularly scheduled all hands-on calls, many employers adopt real-time chat functions ranging from Teams to Yammer to Slack for more instantaneous two-way communication among and between staff. The point isn’t about the tool that you use. The point is about making sure employees are available to their teammates at whatever interval and with whatever response time you deem appropriate in your policy.

In order to make sure people are working when they say they are working, some employers will want to implement monitoring tools. Start with the implementation of technologies you already have. Businesses who use many VoIP telephone systems will be pleased to learn that some of these devices can not only be used for timeclock punching but also for “presence” reporting throughout the workday, reporting on call periods for workers who spend much of their day on the phone. The same chat functions endorsed for real-time communications allow users to manually or automatically register their availability. Keystroking applications can be implemented at the individual desktop level to track productivity levels of roles that are data-entry intensive as well as just interactivity for other positions. Webcams, the most in demand technology from all Work From Home staff, can be configured for periodic and remote monitoring, to virtually check in with staff.

The list of policy and programmatic considerations is almost endless but the most important thing to consider when offering any WFH accommodation is trust. If you cannot trust an employee to work from home, there are no policies nor monitoring systems that will replace the confidence of direct workplace oversight besides not hiring that employee in the first place.