As the months have passed and COVID-19 vaccinations are starting to roll out around the world, more and more people are beginning to think about what kind of work environment they will be returning to. For those of us who have been lucky enough to work from home (WFH), many are wondering how this ultimate experiment in remote work is going to change the way we work going forward.
Prior to the pandemic, many employees wanted the flexibility to work from home; now there is an expectation this flexibility will be available on an ongoing basis. However, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak not many companies supported employees working from home, and those who did often offered it as a perk to employees who had proven they were strong performers.
While there are many reasons organizations have been concerned about offering work-from-home, we have now personally experienced how effective it can be. However, to ensure working from home is successful for both employers and employees in the long term, it is necessary to create a formal work-from-home program.
Why create a formal WFH program?
Creating a formal program provides many benefits, including:
- Objective, standardized approach for identifying work-from-home eligible roles. Outline criteria to assess roles within the organization to determine eligibility for WFH. Shifting the focus from individuals to role duties reduces subjectivity around determining who can work from home while still enabling individual accommodations on a case-by-case basis, if necessary. Use McLean & Company’s WFH assessment in the Sustain WFH Workbook to assess suitability for WFH.
- Increased talent pipeline. Clearly understand which roles can work from any geography to enhance sourcing of talent with key skills. Not having roles tied to specific geographies expands the size and diversity of available talent pools.
- Improved attraction and retention. Many candidates and employees expect organizations to offer ongoing flexibility to work from home, so having a program is necessary to remain competitive. A formal WFH program enables an organization to showcase its commitment to this option and provides a clear outline of what WFH looks like at the organization.
- Savings from decreased real estate requirements. Organizations have realized that WFH can result in cost savings from a reduced office footprint. To benefit from this, it is important to understand how many people need to be in a physical office and how many don’t. A WFH program helps Facilities calculate real estate requirements.
- Clarity of WFH responsibilities and support. Policies and processes must be created or updated to support the WFH program. These will help address concerns both the organization and employees may have about working from home. For example, provide training to managers on managing remote teams, clearly outline performance expectations and KPIs, update expense and equipment policies, establish clear boundaries around work and personal time, etc. See McLean & Company’s Ideas Catalog: Sustain Work-From-Home in the New Normal for ideas of policies and processes to update.
Work-from-home is here to stay, so it is time to embrace it and use it to drive organizational success.
By: Jennifer Waxman