The novel coronavirus has made headlines for months and isn’t showing signs of stopping anytime soon. For many employers, the likelihood of business interruptions is no longer a potential that can wait unchecked. If schools and daycares close, employees will need to stay home to provide care for their children. This leaves employers in a quandary—how do they continue business as usual with a skeleton crew? For many, the answer will be allowing their workers to telecommute.
What a Telecommuting Workforce Will Look Like
Many companies offer flexible schedules or work from home options on certain days of the week already, as these are appealing benefits among millennials. Expanding this policy to allow employees to work 100% remote won’t be without its challenges. It will be even more difficult for businesses that have no exposure to such policies.
To implement a successful remote work policy, employers will need to know its limitations first. Not every job is suited to working from home so employers will still need to develop strategies or workarounds for jobs that are impossible to perform from home. Managers will be a vital resource to executives, as they should know which tasks are most suited to telework and which ones are not.
Employees will also need access to adequate equipment including, at a minimum, a computer with high-speed internet. While most households have these things, executives should be sure employees have the ability to attend teleconferences and maintain good communication while working from home.
How to Implement a Work from Home Policy
There will be a learning curve as employees and employers alike adjust to the change. Some employees may find they’re more comfortable working from home in their pajamas while others may dislike bringing work into the home. There may be communication hiccups as well so investing in a company chat program may help employees maintain the back-and-forth needed to keep projects moving.
To ensure the program is a success, employers should do the following:
- Start testing it now. Waiting until a closure happens and forces the company’s hand isn’t likely to be a smooth transition to remote working. To get a feel for how telecommuting would work, employers could implement the program on a one-day a week basis.
- Iron out the wrinkles. Establishing a telecommuting policy isn’t as simple as providing employees with a computer and access to the company network. Communication will be key to maintaining order. Investing in apps that focus on communication like chat programs, video conferencing, and more will help achieve that goal. In the testing phase, employers can identify problem areas and tweak the policy or find an application to resolve the issues.
- Establish work hours. This will be especially critical for workplaces that offer flexible scheduling. With employees clocking in and out at varying times of the day, chaos can quickly ensue. Employers will need to decide whether all employees must be available during the same hours of the day or if the work lends itself to a flexible schedule without issue.
- Recognize where it won’t work. Some jobs require employees to be onsite without any way to perform the work from home. Employers will need to determine a plan for those employees as well as how (and if) their business can continue to operate without them.
Businesses need to have a plan in place for how they will respond if shutdowns or illness forces their employees to remain at home for an extended period. At the bare minimum, employers should consider revising their absence policy. For example, progressive discipline policies may unfairly affect working parents or employees who have to remain home to care for an ill family member. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about our absence management solutions.