Should Employees Be Allowed to Do Permanent Remote Work for Your Company?

The business landscape has been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic, necessitating the swift implementation of remote working solutions. While this new paradigm brings a unique set of challenges, employers have noticed a marked improvement in productivity as staff can dedicate more focus and spend less time on commutes and other work distractions.

Organizations that have already adopted a work from home (WFH) approach may opt to make this a permanent arrangement, either as a mandatory policy or as a flexible option for those who prefer it. Although short-term measures can be taken to observe social distancing guidelines, transitioning to a WFH model in the long-term may be more beneficial. Employers should conduct a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of remote work to make an informed decision.

To assess your organization’s readiness for a permanent work from home (WFH) policy, establish a committee comprising of representatives from different departments. Conduct a roundtable discussion to review the following topics. The more questions that can be answered positively, the greater the likelihood of transitioning to a permanent WFH model.

Is there a significant number of employees willing to work remotely?

According to a recent survey conducted by SurveyMonkey and Zoom, most participants favoured a hybrid approach to work that involves splitting time between the office and home. Approximately half of respondents prefer to work mainly from home, with 15% opting for a completely remote work situation. At least 80% of those surveyed are in favour of telecommuting, even if it is only occasional.

It is undeniably valuable to gauge public opinion about remote work in the post-pandemic era. Nevertheless, it’s essential to recognize that attitudes may differ among various industries and age groups. To gain a more accurate understanding of your employees’ opinions, it is recommended to seek their direct feedback.

Depending on your company’s size, it may be beneficial to carry out either an internal survey or individual interviews with staff members to ascertain their perceptions of the work from home policy. This includes determining whether they want to maintain this approach and identifying any adjustments they wish for if given the chance.

Have any major issues been resolved?

Companies that initiated remote working in 2020 would have faced certain challenges and had to make adaptations. In the past, determining whether an employee was present or absent in the workplace was simple, and physical attendance was frequently used as a yardstick for productivity. However, many managers have come to realize that output is a more dependable indicator of staff effectiveness since the introduction of work from home.

WFH team members may have encountered distractions when working or studying off-site. To ensure they could be reached when needed, employees had to set new boundaries and routines. It is probable that managers had to demonstrate patience, offer guidance, and provide additional support services.

Staff members who were used to having spontaneous meetings in the office may have been reluctant to employ remote work tools to do the same thing, fearing that their employers, who couldn’t be observed in person, would be displeased. Utilizing the “presence” feature in certain applications or establishing “office hours” can help to alleviate these concerns.

If your company was able to effectively overcome the obstacles of an impromptu remote working arrangement, it should possess the ability to overcome the challenges associated with a permanent setup.

Can you identify how work from home (WFH) benefited your organization?

The sudden shift to work from home in 2020, despite its challenges, may have benefited your company. To capitalize on this, it is advisable to continue with the current setup. The adoption of more efficient communication tools, such as Slack, could have played a vital role in the organization’s growth, potentially decreasing the need for meetings.

Remote work has the potential to offer numerous advantages for your business, such as enhanced punctuality for those who faced difficulty attending 9am meetings, greater opportunities for self-care by utilizing the time previously spent on commutes to engage in exercise, and improved job satisfaction for those who can work from home with their loved ones and pets.

If so, are you prepared to establish a work from home (WFH) system?

It is probable that some employees have been making do with ad hoc setups while working from home (WFH). If WFH is to become a permanent policy, it is crucial to implement systems that can tackle these problems. For example, some workers may have created impromptu workstations at home using items like sofas and coffee tables. However, furniture such as collapsible chairs or those commonly used for dining are not designed to offer ergonomic support, which may result in discomfort and possible injury.

It is advisable to upgrade the furniture, replace routers, provide employees with company-issued laptops, and increase the frequency of supply deliveries. Additionally, clear policies must be put in place to determine who is eligible to work remotely, under what circumstances, and how frequently. Certain weekly office hours or mandatory all-hands meetings may be required. An all-encompassing Work From Home (WFH) plan should be developed to cover all of these requirements.

The plan should incorporate comprehensive details on how and when software updates will be disseminated. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for managing and handling data and documents are vital, including instructions on where team members should store project-related files. Employees must also be familiar with the various tools available to them. Additionally, the estimated timeframe for when team members are expected to be active should be specified.

If your company is willing to navigate through all of these challenges, it is a positive sign that you are prepared for a permanent work from home (WFH) setup.

If You Answered Affirmatively, Then

If your company can respond affirmatively to all of these questions, it may be poised for a permanent work from home (WFH) arrangement. If not, some modifications may be necessary to bring it up to the required level. It is also completely acceptable if you are not comfortable with this setup. Your organization has successfully navigated through this challenging period, and it is probable that you will look back on the days of WFH with fondness, relieved that the responsibility no longer rests solely on your shoulders.

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