Key points about creating a work from home policy:
- Many businesses allow employees to work from home.
- A work from home policy can help you manage remote employees by outlining processes and expectations.
- You can use our free Work from Home Policy Sample to get started.
Whether you call it work from home, telecommuting, flex time, hybrid work, or something else, non-traditional work models are becoming more popular. In fact, a Gartner survey found that 82% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely at least some of the time.
With this trend on the rise, you may want to develop a work from home policy. Even if you don’t plan to let team members work from home, defining a policy can help you prepare for unexpected circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic.
A work from home policy can help you stay consistent, ensure compliance, and otherwise manage your people more effectively. Your policy will look different depending on your workforce, but our free Work from Home Policy Sample can help you get started.
What is a work from home policy?
A work from home policy establishes guidelines and expectations for team members who work outside of the physical office. It also outlines the processes for requests and approvals. This policy can stand alone or live within a larger employee handbook.
What are the benefits of a work from home policy?
By clearly defining responsibilities, a written work from home policy helps remote workers understand expectations. It also helps you stay consistent (and reduce the risk of discriminatory claims) while enforcing it.
Allowing your employees to work from home has several benefits. Remote work can lead to:
A work from home environment means fewer interruptions, a quieter workspace, and a lack of office politics. This can boost employee focus and productivity. In fact, one survey found that 95% of respondents were just as productive, or even more productive, when working from home.
Employees often feel pressured to come into the office even if they’re sick. Allowing them to work from home can reduce the risk of spreading illness to other employees. Remote work actually reduces unscheduled absences by 63%.
Remote work can help you reduce the cost of rent, utilities, internet, and other necessities in your office. Businesses save an average of $11,000 annually for each employee who works remotely at least half of the time. If you take your office fully remote, just be sure you have a complete HR solution to manage your people and processes efficiently.
What should you consider before setting up a work from home policy?
Remote work can benefit your business, but it can also come with some drawbacks. Consider the following before implementing remote work in your workplace:
- It can be difficult for your employees to set boundaries and achieve a healthy work-life balance outside of working hours.
- The lack of social interaction can be lonely, especially for new hires during onboarding. Virtual team building, along with other strategies, can help.
- Easier access to distractions like smart phones and television can disrupt employee focus and productivity.
What businesses should have a work from home policy?
A work from home policy can help any company with an alternate work environment like:
- Work from home
- Telework or remote work
- Flex time
- Hybrid work
What’s included in a work from home policy?
The exact details and inclusions of your work from home policy will differ depending on your unique workforce. However, most policies contain similar sections.
Purpose or objective
Begin by clearly stating the purpose of your work from home policy. In this section, explain that your company allows the possibility of remote work or work from home arrangements. Be sure to note that employees are not entitled to a work from home arrangement, and that certain roles and circumstances may not be suited to remote work.
In this section, explain which positions are eligible for a work from home arrangement. This can help reduce the number of ineligible work from home requests you receive. It can also ensure that you evaluate requests fairly to prevent employee frustration and discrimination claims. For each role, consider:
- Job duties and responsibilities
- What does the position entail? Does the employee need to interact with clients? Can they complete their duties while working from home?
- Equipment and workplace needs
- Does this role require certain equipment, software, or resources? Will they have access to the right technology if they work from home?
- Legal considerations
- Are there any legal or tax considerations that apply to work from home offices for this type of role? Check state and local laws, in addition to IRS regulations.
- Security risks
- Does this position work with sensitive data? Are there any cybersecurity risks? Will they be able to uphold the same level of security if they work from home?
In addition, you may want to outline eligibility based on individual suitability. Evaluate employees fairly by considering things like:
- How long they’ve worked with your company
- Past performance
- Work style
- Home or remote environment
As an example, team members may need to work at your company for at least 6 months before they become eligible to work from home. You might also name specific qualities an employee should have to be able to work from home successfully (organized, self-motivated, etc.).
Outline the step-by-step process employees should follow for work from home requests. Some questions to consider when defining your process include:
- Do employees need to submit a formal request document? To whom?
- Can they simply request work from home arrangements in conversation with their manager?
- How much advance notice do employees need to give?
Then, outline the step-by-step process you’ll use when approving work from home requests. Consider:
- Who approves work from home requests? Does the employee’s manager approve the request or will HR be responsible?
- When can employees expect to receive approval?
- Will you implement a trial period before issuing final approval? If so, how long will the trial period be? What criteria will you use to evaluate success?
If you have questions about the suitability of a work from home arrangement, take your concerns to the employee before making a decision. Having a conversation with the employee who submitted the request will help you make fair decisions and limit unconscious bias.
Acceptable work from home circumstances
Explain the circumstances in which work from home may be an acceptable arrangement. Be sure to note that employees will still need to submit a work from home request even if their reason matches one you list in your policy.
You may allow work from home for one-off situations like a certain project or business travel. You may also allow ongoing remote arrangements with a formal schedule. Or you might introduce a hybrid work schedule or a combination of work from home options. Ask yourself:
- Is there a certain day (or days) when any eligible employee can work from home? For example, you might implement Work from Home Fridays in the summer.
- Will employees be able to work from home or work remotely for short-term circumstances such as:
- Business travel
- Special projects
- Inclement weather
- Childcare responsibilities
- Appointments during the workday
- Personal emergencies
If there are days, hours, or circumstances in which work from home is not viable, state those here as well. For instance, you might require employees to be physically present for team meetings.
Communication, availability, & responsiveness expectations
Set expectations to hold remote employees accountable. These guidelines will also help employees balance any personal responsibilities with their work schedule. Consider:
- Do employees need to be available during the entire workday, or just during specific hours?
- How will employees manage meetings while working from home?
- How will you get in touch with remote employees? What are the preferred methods of communication?
- Are remote workers expected to reply to messages immediately?
These expectations may differ depending on the request, the employee’s responsibilities, and any additional requirements from the manager.
Productivity & performance expectations
Use this section to explain what you expect performance-wise from individuals working from home. Include the answers to questions like:
- How do you define productivity? How will you track it?
- What metrics will you use to measure performance?
To gauge performance, you might track completed tasks or leverage weekly check-ins with managers.
Office supplies & necessary materials
When working from home, employees may need to supply their own furniture, equipment, and office supplies. In this section, clearly explain what equipment you will provide and what the employee will be responsible for.
Some companies provide a small stipend for things like office supplies or internet usage. If you decide to cover any costs for your employees, be sure to explain how much you will cover and what items or services the money can be used for.
- Will you supply their home workspace with a desk, chair, or other furniture?
- Will you help cover the cost of internet usage?
- What about reimbursing employees for office supplies like paper, pencils, and mousepads?
Workplace safety & liabilities
Allowing employees to work from home can create additional workplace safety and liability concerns. To ensure you’re properly covered for work from home arrangements, review your:
- Workers’ compensation coverage
- Liability insurance
- Business property insurance
Your employees should also review their homeowner’s insurance policy to determine if it covers work-related accidents or damage.
Your work from home policy should clearly state that employees are responsible for maintaining a workspace free from safety hazards. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- Where will the remote employees work? Should they have a designated work area in their home?
- Do remote employees have a safe, stable desk to work at? What about an ergonomic chair? Do they have proper lighting and ventilation?
- Will clients and customers visit remote employees at their homes? If so, you may be liable for any injuries clients or customers sustain at these residences.
- Will you set work and rest hours for remote employees? This can help you determine whether an injury or accident occurred in the course of employment.
You may want to create a checklist that employees can use to inspect their remote work environment and ensure it meets your standards. You may also require photographs of the employee’s work from home setup to ensure the employee is complying with your policy.
Employees who work from home may not use secure networks. To avoid unnecessary risks, outline data security policies that remote workers need to follow. Some questions to think about include:
- Can you give your remote employees access to the company Virtual Private Network? Are they required to use it?
- Are employees able to work in public places (like a coffee shop) where other people may see or hear sensitive or private information?
- Do they need to make calls from a private line or send password-protected emails?
- When should they change their password?
- How should they store paper documents?
How can you adjust your current work from home policy?
Perhaps you already have a work from home policy but it isn’t as effective as you hoped it would be. You can always adjust your existing policy by adding in any of the sections above. Just be sure to share the adjusted policy with your employees and clearly communicate any major changes.
How an HRIS Can Help You Manage Employees Working from Home
With employees spread across different cities or working different hours, managing your people can get complicated quickly. Our free Work from Home Policy Sample can help you set guidelines for an effective work from home environment.
You can also invest in an HRIS. HR software centralizes your employee data, making it easier to manage this information alongside payroll, time, benefits, and other HR processes. SentricHR’s all-in-one HRIS can help you manage your employees effectively whether they’re working from home or in the office. To learn more, speak with one of our product experts today!
Legal Disclaimer: The information contained in this sample policy is for general informational purposes only. Under no circumstance shall we have any liability to you for any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of the template or reliance on any information provided in this template. Your use of the template and your reliance on any information is solely at your own risk.