Thinking Ahead about Remote Employees over the Long Term
The massive changes in business due to the COVID-19 pandemic have damaged many smaller businesses, but others have found some of the changes beneficial. When it comes to moving employees from onsite work to word-from-home or other remote working arrangements, many companies found that their negative expectations were not realized. In fact, many found that there were distinct benefits derived from moving employees out of the company’s business facilities to work from home.
- Overall, productivity increased, not decreased as was expected.
- Remote employees overall expressed satisfaction with being able to work from home.
- Many stated that just the elimination of the daily commute was a huge benefit.
- Company costs for facilities decreased with a lower footprint required for personnel.
- Depending on the type of business, other positive benefits were found in sending employees home to work.
The news in business seems to be that the trend is not going away, instead growing and expected to continue. With this long-term focus on having employees working remotely, there are considerations that should be addressed to cover the business liability and taxation issuesi.
- Employee cost to be covered by their employer – Changing the location of work from the company facility to a remote location or the employee’s home creates the need for the employer and employee to have a well-defined structure of what costs the company will cover. This is important, as the expectations of the two parties can be quite different. Also, different employees will have different home or remote infrastructures.
The company has been providing certain services and facilities that may still be necessary for proper work performance but are not available at the employee’s home. Is their home computer up to the needs of the employer? How about communications and Wi-Fi service?
- Setting the work standards and expectations – Gone are the established “break areas and times.” Production quotas or expectations for work product delivery often must change radically for remote workers. Established work hours for collaboration can be a challenge. Communication between employees and especially meetings will require a policy and procedures initiative to assure the needs of the company are met.
Setting up Zoom or other online meeting communications accounts and schedules may be necessary. Impressing upon employees the need for punctual attendance when they are remote is important, as the cost of the meeting increases in most cases based on time online.
- Company liability considerations – Because they are no longer working on company premises, is workers compensation insurance still required? In almost all states, that will be the case. An employee being hurt while working at home will be covered in many cases by that insurance, though substantiating circumstances becomes challenging.
- Ensuring data protection and company privacy issues – Protecting company data and privacy becomes more demanding when remote employees are exchanging data online and with equipment at home. Ensuring that their home systems are protected from spying and malware is critical. Perhaps VPNs, Virtual Private Networks, or company intranets will become more common for business.
The takeaway is that the work-from-home trend is not going away and is growing. Ironing out these issues early, even before you hire employees is important to the health of your business.
i RECOVERY STRATEGIES: 5 ISSUES FOR LONG-TERM WORK-FROM-HOME POLICIES, BigIdeasforSmallBusiness.com