The Employer’s Guide to Working From Home
As an employer, allowing your employees to work remotely permits flexibility in their schedules while cutting down on commuting time and expenses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of days employees worked remotely in the U.S. doubled, and one in four workers are now working entirely from home.
Adopting new company policies that protect your employees’ rights will help you avoid the risk of facing legal ramifications. Review the guide below so your company can make a seamless transition into remote working.
Employer Responsibilities for a Remote Workforce
Although your employees are no longer working in the office, you still have standards you must uphold as an employer. To adhere to employment laws and ensure your employees have everything they need to perform their jobs, review your responsibilities as an employer with a remote workforce.
The benefits your employees need may begin to change as they transition to remote work. There are certain types of benefits every business needs to offer to ensure employees are productive. As an employer with remote workers, consider the following benefits:
- Workers’ compensation: Although your employees aren’t in the office, workers’ compensation is still important. Workers’ compensation benefits still apply to remote employees, as long as they can prove their injury or illness is work-related.
- Child care assistance: Although your employees aren’t coming into the office, they may still need childcare to focus on their job without distraction. Consider continuing to offer this benefit to employees, even as they begin to work from home.
- Mental health benefits: Since employees don’t connect face-to-face every day, it’s easy to forget about their mental wellbeing or personal situations they may be going through. It’s important to provide mental health benefits to remote employees, such as coverage for counseling sessions.
- Home office allowances: As they transition to remote employment, your employees will begin using their electricity, internet bandwidth, and space in their homes to perform their jobs. Consider how this affects your workers financially and consider providing home office allowances to offset the cost. You could agree to pay remote workers a monthly allowance for internet service, electricity, and a portion of their mortgage or rent.
Since your employees are no longer coming into the office and sitting at their desks to work, they’ll need access to equipment to do their job properly. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure they have what they need to perform. The equipment you need to provide may vary based on your employee’s duties, but could include a:
- Computer monitor.
If your employees need other equipment to perform their jobs, such as a headset or tablet, it’s also important to consider providing these items so your workers can perform their job effectively.
Some employees may find this new remote work lifestyle so challenging that they file workers’ compensation claims for mental illness.
Keeping open lines of communication is key to a positive remote work environment. Encourage social interaction between employees through video chats and phone conversations. Frequently check in with employees to ensure they’re feeling happy, productive, and connected to work, even from home.
Remote Employee Responsibilities
Remote employees are also responsible for maintaining productivity and continuing to meet job performance expectations. While right-to-work laws protect remote and in-office employees, there are still employment standards they must abide by. The responsibilities your remote employees are responsible for vary by job but may include the following:
- Maintaining equipment: Employees must have the proper equipment and a dedicated space to work to ensure they have privacy in the workplace, even from home. Without a corporate office to store their equipment, it’s also their responsibility to maintain this equipment. If problems arise, employees must let their employers know if their equipment needs to be fixed or replaced immediately.
- Meeting work expectations: When you set work expectations, remote employees must meet these standards. This may include continuing to meet project deadlines and attending virtual meetings as required. Employees must be willing to work regular office hours and continue to work as efficiently as they did in the office, even from home.
- Communicating with the team: Remote employees should be open to communication with the team, either online, by email, by phone, or through video chat. Communication is a key component to ensuring your workers remain productive. When employees are proactive at maintaining these open lines of communication, it keeps all colleagues on the same page.
- Being available: A work and personal life balance is important for remote employees. To maintain a healthy balance, they shouldn’t work off the clock or feel like they can’t enjoy personal time in the evening hours due to endless work. However, remote employees are responsible for working during the hours they originally agreed upon.
Tips on Managing Remote Teams
Managing a team remotely is different from supervising employees in the office. To manage a remote team effectively, consider these tips:
- Keep open lines of communication between all workers and supervisors.
- Maintain regular meeting schedules, including using video chat.
- Ensure all employees understand your expectations and deadlines.
- Remain consistent with workloads, evaluations, and project direction.
As a manager, it’s also important to welcome constructive criticism from remote employees about current processes and procedures. If your employees are finding it challenging to meet your expectations, it may be time to reevaluate how you conduct business remotely.
Tips for Remote Employees to Stay Productive
Remote employees may also need to reevaluate their work procedures and dedication as they begin to complete work tasks from home. Your remote employees may need to:
- Create a dedicated office space.
- Design and follow a regular schedule.
- Pay attention to deadlines and set additional deadlines for smaller tasks.
- Take breaks from screens and tasks throughout the day.
- Engage in social interactions with co-workers.
The switch from in-office work to remote work is a big transition for both employers and employees. As an employer, you can make this change easier on your employees by providing them with all the tools and benefits they need to continue working efficiently while setting realistic and clear expectations.
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