Allowing employees to work from home on occasion can be good for morale and productivity.
That said, you want to ensure that employees aren’t taking advantage of your flexibility and abusing the privilege. Establish clear expectations by drafting a telecommuting policy that covers these three guidelines:
1. Employee eligibility. Working from home takes focus and willpower, and not everyone is up to the challenge. The draw of the TV, a comfy bed or a sunny afternoon are too much for some people.
If you aren’t offering the option as an organization-wide benefit, establish qualifications for being able to work from home. Base your decision on employees’ past performance.
For example, approve requests when employees have a proven track record of being productive, dependable and accountable (e.g., hitting all deadlines without any supervision). You might even want to make telecommuting a merit-based perk.
2. Business hours. You may not care when employees work, as long as the work is done on time and to your standards. However, if you expect people to work during specific business hours, you need to make that clear. For example, establish the rule that employees should be available for set hours each day, or require them to attend all meetings.
3. Security. When you allow employees to work from personal devices or even carry company equipment home with them, you lose control of it to some degree. You don’t know who is accessing the data, and employees could expose your system to malicious viruses. Set specific guidelines concerning remote wiping capabilities, required virus protection software, establishing passwords, using public networks and prohibited activities on company equipment.
— Adapted from “4 Issues Your Company’s Telecommuting Policy Should Address," Nicole Fallon, Business News Daily, www.businessnewsdaily.com.