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Managing Telecommuters: Let Employees Create Your WFH Policy

You give employees the floor in town halls, you let them weigh in on big decisions and some of you even let employees choose their own job titles, but how many managers let employees create their own work-from-home (WFH) policy?

In the great debate on whether telecommuting leads to greater productivity or just more Netflix binge watching, employee input could just be the secret sauce you need to make your WFH program a success.

Is There Really More to a WFH Policy?

Doesn’t a WFH policy simply mean employees can work at home?

Actually, a good WFH policy doesn’t just dictate whether employees can work from home or not. It also includes specifics like whether employees can choose the days they work at home.

Some policies might require employees to be in the office on Fridays and for meetings. Policies may also include how long new hires must wait before working at home, whether employees must have a dedicated home office or can work at the coffee shop and if home visits are required to evaluate home workspaces.

Very importantly, WFH policies provide clear guidelines about what the rules are and what happens if employees break them. If an employee doesn’t respond to an email after 30 minutes, do they lose all WFH privileges? What would be grounds for termination?

Your WFH policy not only enforces good habits for productivity outside of the office but also makes crystal clear what everyone needs to do to stay in the green zone and avoid messy situations. It’s quite possibly the first step you take in becoming a great manager for virtual (or semi-virtual) teams.

Why Do Workers Need a Say?

A mutually-beneficial, team-created WFH policy fosters trust on both sides. Employees will feel confident that they can successfully follow the rules, and managers will feel more assured that workers will follow them because they created the guidelines.

Besides being an oxymoron, an inflexible flex work policy is like offering the reins but not letting go. If the whole point of your WFH program is to increase productivity, employees may need more flexibility than you’ve offered to really benefit.

Every worker is different. Some employees may feel most productive at home on, say, Tuesdays, while others pick up steam later in the week. By giving them the fluidity to choose their days at home each week, you ensure they’re maximizing their productivity.

Employees may even want to make their own requests of managers, too. They may want less micromanagement on their days at home, limitations to prevent overworking or one-on-one video meetings to touch base. They also may need extra technical support or upgraded software like virus protection or web conferencing for their home computer.

Plus, anytime you demonstrate transparency in your decision-making process and allow others to contribute, you’re empowering your employees. Empowered employees take initiative, feel valued and work harder to return the respect you give.

WFH programs may turn up a few bad apples, but the success of a telecommuting team really depends on a connected, responsive virtual manager. Start by soliciting feedback, and continue the open flow of communication by sharing resources like our free eBook “Which Type of Teleworker Are You?” to help your employees successfully WFH.

About Ashley Speagle

Ashley Speagle is a Florida-born, Georgia-raised communications specialist, couch movie critic, dream interpreter, acrophobic adventure seeker, outdoors enthusiast, and easy-going introvert.

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