So, you are thinking of having some or all of your employees work from home for the next few weeks or months? Before you send them on their way, here are a few things you may want to consider:
1. Do you have the proper policies in place?
Employers responding to the acute risk resulting from the spread of the novel coronavirus, by permitting employees to work from home, should take steps to institute policies to cover issues unique to telecommuting. Employers who permit their employees to work from home should, at a minimum, ensure that their employees have executed acknowledgements of the Employer’s policies on confidentiality and proprietary information and also a specific policy that addresses the unique concerns regarding telecommuting . Additionally, if employees will be using their own personal devices to work from home, an employer should institute a so called “bring your own device (BYOD) to work policy.”
2. How will you approach and manage productivity?
Some reduction in productivity is inevitable. Being in a structured work environment stimulates more focused work from most people. It is human nature to become distracted while working from home. However, it is wise for employers to consider how much productivity loss is acceptable and how they can monitor their employee’s productivity. Methods of observing productivity could include:
a. Monitoring the duration of time an employee is logged into a program. Preferably, the program’s settings should adjusted so that the employee will be automatically logged out due to inactivity (maybe 30 minutes to an hour).
b. Reviewing the employee’s typical work volume and requiring that the employee meet a threshold within a certain percentage of traditional work volume (100% is probably not realistic).
c. Requiring specific response times to clients or customers.
d. Using real time methods of communication between members of a team such as Microsoft Teams and requiring active participation on these forums.
e. Educating the workforce by requiring an employee to complete some work-related online course or certification.
3. Are you applying the option to work from home in a non-discriminatory manner?
Make sure that if you are permitting some employees to work from home while not others, your policy is clearly specified and could not be construed as discriminating against certain protected classes of employees or employees who have engaged in protected activity.
4. How are you documenting your actions?
In order to avoid future headaches, you should document what actions you take and why, including a discussion of the uniqueness of the present situation.
We are here to assist you with the unique challenges you may be dealing with in response to the coronavirus and staff management. We recognize this situation may include some venting sessions from time to time. Should you have any further questions regarding this or other matters please do not hesitate to ask.