The whole world came to a standstill when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Countries locked down cities, businesses, and schools. Life changed for everyone, and social interactions were no longer possible except with your family at home. Many people lost their jobs, and companies had to figure out how to keep operating with employees working remotely. Establishments that already had working from home setups were lucky and simply had to expand them for all employees.
However, many organizations were not prepared for the work from home scenarios. Nonetheless, change forces us to adapt to the new norm, and that is what most companies did to stay in business during the global pandemic. Working remotely comes with its share of challenges but allows establishments to keep running, even if partially, instead of completely closing down. Below is a guide on how the pandemic has propelled working remotely and added to organizations’ human resource policies.
Working From Home: A New Work Era
Working from home has been around for a while. However, Covid-19 has made it a popular phrase across the world. With the restrictions set in place to curb the virus’s spread, companies have had to facilitate home office setup in employee residences. Working virtually is not the same as being at a physical workplace, but it has kept various businesses running. More people are now using online technologies and hardware to stay in touch with employers and employees. Video calls and conferencing have become the norm.
Teachers have had to use different apps to keep their students learning from home. Healthcare practitioners connect with their families, virtually to curb the spread of the disease. Reporters are finishing their assignments and doing interviews from their living rooms or study. Those coffee breaks at the office and interacting with colleagues are no longer face-to-face. Besides, universities and other higher learning institutions have realized that they can do more without lecturers necessarily meeting students.
Nonetheless, somehow the world has managed to move on with business, thanks to innovative applications. Companies have learned the importance of having work from home arrangements and encouraging employees to get used to them. That is what the coronavirus has done to the world, and we are lucky that the outbreak occurred when virtual technologies were already popular across the globe.
The New Era of Home Office During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Before the pandemic, a typical workday involved waking up, perhaps working out, and commuting to your workplace. You get to accomplish various goals while in between interacting with colleagues. It is a totally different case with working from home. First, employees who did not have a home office have had to create space for that. Otherwise, it can be challenging to be productive from the comfort of your bed. Companies have had to ensure workers have the necessary equipment for communication, completing projects, submitting them, and ensuring client data privacy.
With the new work era, you might find yourself on more phone calls than before, consulting on different office issues, seeking clarification, and reaching out to clients. For now, we cannot enjoy social interactions with colleagues during breaks or after work. However, with company breaks from home during work hours, you can video call your colleague and loosen up before embarking on your tasks. Working from home requires companies to come up with creative ways to keep employees engaged and comfortable, as they were doing at the office before the pandemic struck.
10 Elements of An Effective Work From Home Policy
Ensuring employees’ productivity in the new era of the home office does not have to be complicated. An organization needs a work from home policy, which regulates various remote work terms, including employee and employer expectations and responsibilities. It helps in handling various issues that may arise from the work from home setup. Below are 10 elements that make up an effective work from home policy to get operations running smoothly.
Define the Scope
It is essential that the policy clearly states the purpose and intent of remote working and the conditions for working from home. In this case, Covid-19 is the reason why an organization has to adopt remote workplaces.
Most companies are working from home for most companies, but some of them have to be at the workplace for essential functions. For example, a television station needs a few people on-site to control programs’ flow, so not every task gets done remotely. The remote working policy needs to explicitly explain which jobs and tasks are eligible for the work from home scenario.
Dress Code, Attendance, and Availability
The policy should also outline what the employer expects from employees in terms of attendance, dress code, and availability expectations to enhance order. It also needs to incorporate legal working hours and breaks and the required dress code.
An excellent working from home policy provides a risk analysis checklist to assist staff members in establishing the right workspaces for them outside the office. It should consider suitable technology, cybersecurity, family-work balance, and safety.
As an employer, ensure the policy is clear on the productivity level you expect from your workforce. It should explain how employees will set work objectives and how the management will assess their performance.
Working remotely requires tools such as a laptop and a stable internet connection. Therefore, the policy needs to state which equipment and technical support the company will offer employees. It also needs to explain the necessary home office arrangements.
Client and company data require paramount protection. We all know how tricky cyberspace can be. Therefore, the good policy has to address the steps put in place to safeguard client and business information and other confidential data.
Since remote working eliminates face-to-face interactions, communication channels need to be more effective than ever before. The work from home policy needs to state the approved communication channels to use between employer and employee. Doing so boosts performance and relay of feedback.
Working from home eliminates expenses such as transport costs. The pandemic has seen companies losing money, so any avenue to lower expenses is welcome. Therefore, the policy should also cover any modifications made to remuneration that affect remote working. Adjusted working hours and internet costs are some of the factors that might change remuneration terms.
Nevertheless, the work from home policy should also state the terms that might affect the employment contract’s standard. Any changes to temporary or permanent remote working arrangements should reflect in the signed contracts to prevent legal tussles.
New Allowances Which You Deserve for Your Hard Work from Home
Working from home presents a different work environment. Many people are used to a workplace being in a commercial building, not their home. Setting up a home office comes with costs and changes in your work arrangement. That is why you deserve some allowances to get you started and running.
Internet and Hardware
Employers have to provide employees with the technological infrastructure to enable you to work from home. It includes laptops, monitors, printers, and paying mobile bills you incur as you perform your duties.
You need tables and chairs to set up a proper home office environment. An organization should provide its workforce with a one-time allowance to install comfortable workspaces.
Food and Snacks
The coffee and snacks you get at your workplace on the company’s dime are not available at your home. Besides, perhaps you order lunch from the office cafeteria. With a meal allowance, you can order food to our doorstep, so you do not waste time preparing meals during work hours.
Household Care and Laundry
With having to stay home to prevent the spread of Covid-19, you have to do laundry and take care of your family. Household chores take up time and could affect your productivity when working from home. It would be helpful if your employer-provided an allowance to have you hire people to do the chores, so you can focus on work.
Sitting in front of a screen for hours is tough. You get tired, and your brain requires a break. One way to refresh is by doing something fun like watching comedy. The recreational allowance helps you escape from office work and relax before embarking on whatever you were doing. It could be a Netflix allowance or Kindle membership, for example.
The Pros and Challenges of Working from Home
Working from home during the pandemic has eliminated commuting, meaning you get to save money. Use the extra time to relax, sleep, or exercise. Besides, a change of environment from the office to your home or another comfortable location is good for your mind. It can increase productivity and help you focus better.
However, the new era of home office comes with distractions. For instance, if you have small children, it can be hard locking yourself in a room and concentrate while they run around making noise. However, you can manage them, finish your roles, and get that paycheque. Besides, face-to-face communication has its advantages. You can gauge responses from clients and colleagues better than through phone calls. However, video calls and virtual meetings have made things a lot easier, as you can see the person you are interacting with.
The new work era has introduced employers and employees to new ways of running things. Despite not being able to physically meet your colleagues, you can still be productive from the comfort of your home. The pandemic has changed how we used to do things, but we have also learned other ways to survive and adapt through it. However, organizations should continue with the remote working arrangements even after the pandemic to boost performance and cut operational costs.
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