In 2023, the workforce is split. Many employees now want to work from home at least part of the time while others prefer to go back to an office and a few others don’t want to go back at all.
As a result, hybrid work is emerging as the most common solution.
Employers are stuck in the middle, and many are unsure how to create a fair and effective work-from-home (WFH) policy.
Launch CEO Mike Kriel put it this was:
“Business owners are wary of being the first to roll out work-from-home policies because they’re unsure what the competition is doing. Nobody wants to spearhead it and then find out they mishandled it compared to other businesses.”
But instead of waiting around to see what others do, you can take proactive steps to create a WFH policy that works for your team today.
Setting the Stage: Employee and Employer Concerns
When it comes to creating a work-from-home policy, you need to consider it from both the employee and employer sides. There are some highly-desired employee benefits in a post-pandemic world that you’ll want to keep in mind, too.
Employee WFH considerations include:
- Flexibility and autonomy: Will WFH lead to micromanagement? Or will it swing the other way with management being too hands-off?
- Communication: Will projects run smoothly? Will everyone follow communication norms and best practices?
- Work-life balance: Is it hard to separate work and home life when everything is in the same space? What are the strategies for unplugging without physical disconnection?
- Equity: Will everyone on the team still pull their own weight? Will some people take advantage of WFH to slack off?
Employer WFH considerations are generally things like:
- Productivity and outcomes: Will employees be as effective while working from home? Are we still going to reach our goals and deliver high-quality products and services?
- Company culture: Will our team still feel connected and engaged with our company and work? Will the culture suffer if everyone works from home?
- Finances: How will this impact our budget and operations? Can we downsize office space? What are the unknown costs of this?
- Security and accessibility: Are there any cybersecurity concerns with employees working from home? Do employees have the necessary equipment to do their job?
These are some common concerns, but each team, employee, and leader will differ. Spend some time considering your personal concerns, goals, or desires when creating a work-from-home policy so you’re aligned on what’s important.
Then, reach out to your team. Depending on the size and nature of your workplace, this can look different. You might want to schedule one-on-one meetings, send out an anonymous survey, or just openly invite feedback.
No matter how you do it, soliciting input from employees is a great way to understand their desires and hesitations when creating a work-from-home policy.
4 Stages for Creating a Work-From-Home Policy
There are four main stages to consider as you’re creating a work-from-home policy for your team: detail, document, communicate, and uphold your WFH policy.
1. Detail the Plan
Detailing your WFH plan starts with the considerations listed above. Employees and employers have unique concerns or considerations, but there’s a lot of overlap. When creating a WFH policy, it comes down to two main questions:
- Will this work? This speaks to practical concerns like communication, logistics, equipment, work location, etc.
- Will we like it? This includes questions about company culture, engagement, autonomy, flexibility, and work-life balance.
Within these two broad categories, there are a number of important considerations when creating a work-from-home policy:
- Hours and schedule: When people will work and be expected to be online—all at once, or will they work asynchronously? There are many different hybrid shift work options you can try here.
- Position eligibility: Considering the types of roles and needs of your business, some employees may not be suitable for a WFH schedule. Think through coverage (if you’re client-facing) and who may be needed in the office based on their responsibilities.
- Work location: WFH policies may include hybrid schedules, where employees come to the office periodically. Consider alternate options like coworking space memberships and flexible meeting rooms if you no longer maintain office space.
- Communication guidelines: Think about the apps and tools you’ll use to manage projects and tasks. Carefully select options that help you build collaboration processes for your team and are user-friendly, and effective.
- Security protocols: Outline cybersecurity concerns and how employees should mitigate them when working from home (i.e., VPN, secure log-in).
- Financial considerations: WFH and hybrid business models have different expenses than a traditional in-office team. Consider both the savings you might have (i.e., swapping to a coworking office instead of traditional office space) or additional expenses (i.e., high-speed internet and new equipment for employees).
- Reporting and accountability: Decide if you want to implement any kind of accountability mechanism, such as logging hours or manager check-ins. This can also include rules around setting statuses to “unavailable” or blocking times off in the calendar.
- Boundaries and balance: Think about how you’ll encourage remote work-life balance for you and your team. What boundaries need to be in place to protect time off?
- Connection and engagement: Consider the type of culture you want to foster—how will you achieve it remotely? Actively include ways to connect as a team in your WFH policy. This could be social events, in-person training, or periodic team meetings.
- Evaluation: How are you going to know if this WFH policy is working? Develop some KPIs around performance and engagement that you can come back to and measure.
2. Document the Plan
Once you’ve detailed your plan, it’s important to document it. No matter how small or large your team is, formal documentation is the way to get everyone on the same page. It also helps with onboarding new employees and setting expectations in the beginning.
Documentation should be aligned with your other company policies, procedures, or training materials. Making use of a shared drive or company intranet is a great way to keep everything in one place.
- Pro tip: Ask a few of your colleagues or co-leaders to edit your document, specifically checking for clarity and consistency. You don’t want to distribute something that’s confusing!
3. Communicate the Plan
The next step when creating a work-from-home policy is to take your documented plan and communicate it with your team. This can be done in two phases:
- Team meeting: Bring everyone together to share the new WFH policy. This ensures everyone gets the same information at the same time. If your team is remote, consider bringing people together in person for this meeting—consider booking an on-demand office space and combining it with a workshop, training, or social event.
- One-on-one follow-ups (as needed): Naturally, some people will have questions or concerns regarding the new policies. As needed, set a time to speak with your team members one-on-one to address them. Because you’ve done the initial leg work to identify key concerns, you should be able to provide clear answers.
When communicating the WFH policy, be open and flexible to feedback. WFH is a “new normal” that all companies are adjusting to, so it’s okay if you don’t get it right the first time and need to make some tweaks.
4. Uphold the Plan
This last step is just about continuing to return to the policy you’ve created. As questions and situations arise, use your plan to help resolve them. If there’s something new that you never addressed in your WFH policy, consider adding it so there’s a standard for next time.
Upholding a WFH policy is ultimately about finding utility in your policy and using it as a practical guide to making decisions.
Hybrid work is here to stay. Business owners and leaders need to adapt to that by creating an effective and beneficial work-from-home policy for their employees to follow. It’s going to look different for everyone, but we hope these considerations give you a boost to get started.
If you’re looking for a flexible workspace that inspires and engages your employees, book a tour of your local Launch Workplace today.