Six Tips for Starting an Employee Work-at-Home Program

Work From Home

Remote workers and work-at-home employees are on the rise.  In fact, according to Global Workplace Analytics research, about 50% of the US workforce has a job that’s at least partially compatible with telework.  Many employers may be eyeing telework and work-at-home programs but are unsure where to start.  Exact Market has been running as a work-at-home professional business since 2007 and has some tips and pointers for starting or piloting work-at-home program that can help your employees remain productive, engaged, and happy in remote worker situations.

Tip #1:  Set up Schedules of Check Ins and Check Outs

While there may not be a “time clock” for your employee to punch, checking in and checking out should be expected for all wage employees.  Check-ins and check-outs can be as simple as an email or as complex as submitting a timecard either in a spreadsheet or through on-line programs or apps.  If it’s your first foray into work-at-home, just a simple check-in via email may be a good place to start.  Letting your employees know they must check-in and check-out shouldn’t be an arduous process.  For salaried employees, setting up expectations of a regular “virtual office hours” when they should be available for work-related projects, meetings, and calls should be communicated.

Tip #2:  Start the Work Week with a Virtual Team Meeting

Most people work in teams, so keeping a regular team meeting via conference call or better yet, a web conference platform like Zoom, Webex, Google Hangouts, or even FaceTime is a good idea.  Moving to video solution helps employees maintain a certain level of professionalism in both dress and conduct.  Plus—if workers are geographically remote it helps build comradery and rapport on teams.  For teams used to working face-to-face, it maintains that feel or actually being in the room with each other.  Starting off the work week with a virtual team meeting also helps keep employees focused on goals that need to be accomplished.

Tip #3:  Set Daily or Weekly Goals for Your Remote Employees

As an employer or manager starting a work-at-home program—keeping your remote workers engaged and happy is critical.  Since workers are no longer “in the office”—it helps to give them either daily or weekly goals to be accomplished.  Seasoned, salaried employees may initially balk at the idea, so wise managers could meet individually with employees to jointly determine the daily or weekly goals.  This gives a certain amount of autonomy to employees while setting the expectation that work will continue as normal, despite the changed work environment.

Tip #4:  Establish Expectations on Responsiveness

While no employee likes to feel they are constantly being watched—it is good to set and communicate your expectation on response times to important communications that happen via email, text, or phone call.  While it is unrealistic to expect immediate responses all the time, it important for fledgling remote workers to understand that they are at work during their established office hours or work shifts and are expected to be responsive.  Service level agreements should be established with each employee depending on the nature of their work and urgency of situation.

Tip #5:  Encourage a Dedicated Workspace

While this may vary depending on individual living situation of your employees and the duration of the work-at-home program you are implementing—full-time, long-term remote workers should have a dedicated workspace that can be free from distraction of daily, home life.  This helps maintain a certain level of professionalism and productivity to remote workers, while providing a dedicated space to have video meetings.  This especially critical if your work-at-home employee is interfacing with customers or partners.  Depending on circumstances of your work-at-home program, this may not be possible for every employee.  However, setting the expectation that they should be able to have distraction-free conference calls or team meetings should be communicated.

Tip #6:  Be Both Engaging and Disengaging as a Remote Employer

Aa a manager or employer starting a remote worker program, it’s important that your employees know your expectations, while also giving your employees a certain amount of freedom.  Combining work into a home setting often blurs the lines between work and home life and good remote worker employers help their employees separate the two.  Nothing leads to remote worker burn-out faster than employees feeling like they never leave work.  After all, t there is no “office” to leave for a work-at-home employee.  It is critical to helpfully check up on remote workers about shared goals to keep them productive during the work week, but also is also just as critical to set expectations that work-at-home employees should daily disengage from work to enjoy their home and personal lives.

Work-at-home and remote workers are fast becoming the “new normal” in many lines of work.  Given that many employers may be piloting work-at-home programs faster than they’d like, it’s important to learn some tips from others who have successfully adopted  remote worker programs. Exact Market has over a decade of experience in helping employees remain productive, happy, and engaged while working from home.  We can help you set up and successfully transition your in-office employees to a proven work-at-home model for any duration you’d like.  Working at home and the remote, digital workplace is the future of work in many industries, and Exact Market can help you transform your workforce to a successful and productive remote workforce, faster than you thought possible. Why not engage with us and find out how?