Work At Home Considerations
If you offer
this arrangement to one person, will others also request the same?
If you okay this request,
you may have opened the floodgates. Determine in advance how many
similar requests you can allow. Is this a one-time accommodation
or a new pattern of work for the organization?
your Workers' Compensation carrier to see what your legal obligations
are regarding employees working at home?
they get injured at work/home, what is your obligation and your
you have the staff to perform remote support on her computer, telephone,
and other systems when they inevitably crash?
of written agreements might you need to define the employee's
obligations and performance expectations?
Can you create
a trial period to see if it's working?
Is there a
limit to the number of employees who can work at home per department?
Do you have
an "exit strategy" if the arrangement doesn't work?
Seems like I keep asking
questions, but don't offer direct solutions. But there are so
many unique issues that you need to consider before making this
major decision, I thought my best approach would be to pose
leading questions rather than try to answer every scenario you
If it all works, you have the opportunity to create a great
win-win situation for both you and the employee. So take your
time to think it through to make it work for you. Tread slowly
call Arlene today
Employees to Work at Home
recently received a call from a client. Her employee went out
on maternity leave and decided that rather than return to work
on-site after the leave, that she could perform the work at
home in order to take care of her newborn and not have to send
the baby to daycare.
There are lots of red flags that went up on my side of the telephone.
In some organizations employees working at home on a full-time
and/or part-time basis is a very successful, mutually beneficial
arrangement. But its an arrangement that cant be
entered into lightly.
Each organization can decide whether or not to allow employees
to work at home on a regular basis. The organization receiving
this request from its employee has no obligation to accept the
employees proposal. Many organizations determine that
arranging for employees to work at home is not in their best
I have one client who allowed several employees to perform their
work responsibilities at home. The employees work production
required focus and concentration that was not available in their
busy office. However, once the client determined that the work-at-home
arrangement no longer benefited the company, the remote employees
rebelled. They resigned immediately and much of their talent
and expertise was lost. One employee perceived all the work
to be his own and deleted all the company's files before returning
the company computer. On the other hand, another employee still
resigned but at least assisted by training new staff before
Im sure for every horror story, there are many many tales
of successful at-home work arrangements. To help you, here are
some of the questions to ask before making any decisions. Of
course, Ive included some commentary as well:
the employees job performance? If its not perfectly
stellar while shes in your office, it is likely to decline
without supervision or face-to-face accountability.
work currently delegated to the employee? Does she need to
meet in person with her supervisor or others in order to work
effectively, or is the work independent requiring little or
hours will the employee need to work in the office to attend
meetings, deliver information, collect documents, forms, tools,
or other information to get her work done?
work is performed on the phone? Does she work with internal
and/or external clients who need her immediately? Will they
be offended when she places them on hold or calls them back
because her baby needs her attention?
arrangement is at her request, you may not have to provide
computer equipment perhaps she has her own or
you may have to provide a duplicate office. You may also need
to address Internet access, confidentiality of documents in
the employees home, etc. And as with the example I described
above, youd also need to address how to back up the
employees work to your company server to ensure all
work and data clearly belongs to the organization.
employee have dedicated space in her home to work, or would
she be sharing the dining table with the job? The absence
of a dedicated area with appropriate storage, etc. may not
be conducive to the level of productivity you need from the
important to determine whether this is a short-term fix for
a couple of months after the baby is born or does the employee
see this as a permanent arrangement?
is spent during the day caring for the baby, can the person
accomplish the balance of the work after hours and still be
effective to your organization? Unless the employee has other
day care, it is nearly impossible for the employee to be available
for 8 hours during normal working hours.
you be able to monitor whether the employee is actually putting
in the hours that shes committing to?
you effectively supervise the employee? Is the current supervisor
someone who has the skills, abilities and/or time to effectively
supervise an employee from a distance? How much additional
time might this supervision take? Do you have the technology
to accomplish remote supervision and meetings? How will employee
results be measured?
employees absence from the workplace be disruptive to
the people she needs to contact to get her job done
or vice versa will they be able to reach her when needed?
Is the work environment conducive to a remote operation?
- It's important to explore
how allowing employees to work at home will benefit the organization.
This may be a good solution for a long term employee with lots
of valuable skills and information that you don't want to lose.
But how will you handle the same request from a short term employee
who's looking for a convenient way to stay home with pay, but
who is not truly committed. Can you institute performance or
service standards for employees who request to work at home?
There are so many considerations
to this important decision. If you need help considering the
options, feel free to give me a call. You can do more research
and find someone in another organization who has gone through
this process and incorporate their experiences into your decision
Copyright (c) 2007 Arlene
Vernon, HRx, Inc.
PHR, partners with small businesses as their Human Resource Xpert
to create their HR systems and solve their HR problems.
If you have gaps in your HR operation, have an employee problem
to solve, or want to enhance your managers' skills, call Arlene
today. Learn how HRx can save you time and help you avoid costly
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