Working from home is not a new concept, but it’s still a privilege that only some businesses offer their staff. Understandably, it’s easy to worry that employees who work from home may put their feet up rather than being focused.
However, taking the time to implement an effective ‘work from home’ policy provide your business with far more benefits than drawbacks.
This article takes a closer look at the benefits of working from home and some steps you can follow to ensure your ‘work from home’ policy works for your business.
Benefits of a ‘work from home’ policy
Working from home policies can be well received by employees. But it can also benefit your company in ways you may not have previously considered:
Our research reveals that 70% of Hong Kong workers want more flexibility with their job, yet only 25% of workers have been able to negotiate remote working. This means that many employees are unsatisfied and having to commute to the office every day unwillingly. By implementing flexible workplace practices, you can keep employees satisfied and increase overall happiness levels. This can help to build a more productive and engaged workforce, which can also improve employee retention.
Are you worried about employees being less productive when they’re not at the office? At home, employees can benefit from fewer distractions, fewer interruptions from colleagues and may feel more focused in their own surroundings, leading to better productivity.
Office space can cost a small fortune and the cost of moving, as your business and team grow, can be enormous and disruptive. Encouraging employees to work remotely means you can rely on smaller office space, saving you money and enabling you to scale up or down easily.
Having a ‘work from home’ policy in place can be beneficial in many situations where employees are unable to travel to the office. This could be from unpredictable weather conditions such as typhoons or seasonal bouts of severe air pollution. Instead of losing work hours, business should be able to continue as usual.
Six ways to optimise telecommuting
Follow our top tips for managing your remote employees effectively, to ensure they’re as productive as ever:
1. Use technology to your advantage
With continuous developments in technology and easy access to the Internet, it’s now easier than ever for employees to work remotely.
There are also a growing number of Internet-based tools that can help you keep in touch with employees, monitor progress, collaborate, share files and more. You don’t even need a sophisticated company-wide cloud system. Simple, free software like Skype, Google Drive and Slack are a good start.
2. Set clear tasks
The way you delegate and manage tasks doesn’t have to change because staff are working from home. Continue to set clear goals, tasks and deadlines.
If you want to be even more transparent, consider using project management tools like Trello with your team. You can see the status of projects at a glance, easily monitor progress, assign tasks, set priority levels and more.
3. Stay in contact
It’s essential to keep communication channels open. There are many video-based tools available, with Skype and Google Hangouts being among some of the most popular.
These are perfect for catching up with a single employee or your whole team at once. Face-to-face meetings can still be beneficial from time-to-time too though.
4. Monitor not micromanage
When employees work from home, be careful not to micromanage them. This wastes your time and theirs. It can also make staff feel like they are not capable or trusted.
Instead of continually requesting updates, empower staff to manage their own tasks, while being available if they need support.
5 .Focus on work completed, not time spent
In an office, employees are expected to be present from nine to five, regardless of how productive they are. For remote workers, you could check everyone puts in precisely 40 hours per week.
Alternatively, you could build a more positive work culture by focussing on completed work. You may find that staff complete projects more efficiently at home, so instead of pushing more work on them, any extra time could be considered a reward. This then creates an incentive for staff to be more productive and work more efficiently going forward.
6. Trust your employees
If you’re still sceptical about your team pulling their weight when working from home, perhaps telecommuting isn’t the problem, but underperformance is.
A company culture where you need to be continually looking over your employees’ shoulders to make sure they’re completing their work is unhealthy and prevents employees from genuinely loving what they do. Accountability is necessary, but so is trust. Show employees that they are trusted and respected in your business, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Learn from Robert Half’s expert recruiters so you can build a talented team of employees or advance your career. Operating in over 300 locations worldwide as a leading Hong Kong recruitment firm, Robert Half can provide you with assistance where and when you need it.