Town of Riverview / News / Working from home the new normal? Finally

Working from home the new normal? Finally

As a result of the current pandemic, many employers have been forced to reassess their teleworking policies, but that doesn’t compare to those that had to start from scratch because a policy has never existed. The way we work is changing, and it’s about time!  

Ultimately it comes down to your employees, and in which environment they find themselves most productive. Being able to offer flexible workspaces is an attractive benefit, but it can also serve the employer by reducing unnecessary organizational costs like rent, utilities and cleaning services. Having a work-from-home policy can keep your business competitive while giving you access to a wider pool of applicants, and a distributed workforce can also ensure that operations continue forward when faced with, oh - let's say, an unplanned pandemic. 

Employees that work from home are less distracted than those in a traditional office room setting, and have attributed their spike in productivity to customized workspaces, a reduction in commute times and an autonomous schedule. Employees that are given the choice to work remotely have proven to be more productive, innovative and effective in comparison to their office space counterparts. There is this irritational fear that people working from home are going to take advantage of its many luxuries, but studies over the years have found quite the opposite. 

For employers that are already inundated with the effects of COVID-19, it can be hard to set time aside for policy development, but being able to adapt to a changing climate will determine which businesses succeed and which do not. With easier and more affordable access to strong telecommunication tools like ZoomSkype and Google Hangouts, working from home has never been easier. Managing teams and projects remotely has also come a long way with tools like Slack and Trello.  

Here are five things to consider when creating a work-from-home policy to limit liability and establish expectations: 

Employee work hours, response time, status and responsibilities should not change when working from home and the same benefits, including vacation, sick time and leave, should still apply. During work hours and while performing work-related duties, employees should be covered under workers’ compensation as an extension of the company’s workspace. 

The employee should be asked to create a designated workspace within their environment for themselves and their office equipment. Employees should also be encouraged to keep a safe, clean and productive workspace while working from home, free of potential hazards and distractions. 

Ensuring that your employees are set up for success will be important. This can include making sure teleworkers have access to strong connectivity - or a hotdesking option that offers this - a computer or laptop, and the necessary software to perform their tasks. This should also include repairs and troubleshooting to company equipment as would be eligible for in-office employees. 

Consider a training session to go over expectations, teleconferencing software, and management tools being used. Employers should also consider how they will manage and coordinate team check-ins when working from home to keep everyone accountable. 

Employees should be available during regular working hours to answer calls and email requests, with scheduled breaks and lunch hours. It is important to share this expectation with employees prior to beginning. Working from home needs to be seen as an extension of the office. 

In the end, your policy should reflect your company, and you should always consider local, provincial and federal regulations. For more resources, check out this article by McInnis Cooper outlining some of the key Employer Obligations when working from home in New Brunswick. Together, from home. 

Next: Read our previous article titled Thriving in a Pandemic



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