As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, companies across a wide range of industries have employees working from home. In addition to being a necessary precaution for small businesses dealing with coronavirus, allowing employees to work from home can improve their loyalty and satisfaction, serve as a reward and motivation and even save you money on utilities and office space. But to maximize the benefits of remote work, it is important to follow a few do’s and don’ts.
- Don’t expect remote workers to be at their desks 9 to 5. The whole point of remote work during the coronavirus crisis is to enable flexibility for your team while protecting their health. Be understanding of the fact that many employees have children out of school and a range of new responsibilities to attend to.
- Do set clear expectations for remote workers. Remote workers should know what to expect in terms of job requirements. For instance, you may want remote workers to be available during certain “core hours” of the day to answer calls or interact with other 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 the key to the success of any remote work program. Daily communication with remote colleagues and managers is even more important in such stressful times. Good communication leads to a better understanding of individual tasks, as well as improved coordination among members in the teams. Establish a good communication norm to create an effective remote working team by communicating daily with each other and managers via different online tools like Skype or Zoom.
- Don’t micromanage remote workers. No one likes to be micromanaged, and employees who are working remotely may feel you do not 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. Do not let remote workers drift without direction. While you should not 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 including ergonomic adjustments to their work environment if needed.
- Be mindful of first–time remote workers. This is a challenging time for many employees, especially those who are working from home for the first time. Stay in close communication with your remote workers and make sure they have the tools they need to be effective and engaged with the rest of the team while working from home.
- Do ensure employees have the tools they need to follow ergonomic best practices when working from home: Encourage them to assess their own workspace, both at the office and at home. By providing your employees with a self-evaluation checklist, you can help them take responsibility for identifying risks and determining the appropriate actions to correct them.
If you have any further questions or need assistance updating your Employee Handbook to include expectations for remote workers, please reach out to Tact HR Services. We are here to support small business owners and entrepreneurs like you during the coronavirus outbreak and after it has passed.