What is a Working From Home Policy?
A Working From Home Policy outlines the working arrangements and health and safety guidelines for employees who are working remotely or from home.
You can use this template to increase flexibility within your business, clearly outline the procedures to be followed and help to set the ground rules in black and white so everyone is clear on their obligations.
Do I need a Working From Home Policy?
Yes! In an ever-changing work landscape, your business should be able to adapt and offer flexible working arrangements where necessary.
Having a working from home policy helps you clearly communicate your expectations of employees who are working remotely and gives them guidelines as to how to create a safe working environment wherever they are.
The COVID19 pandemic has forced many businesses to implement working from home arrangements for the first time and introduced new risks which you may have never faced or anticipated before.
It’s important to understand that employers may be liable for injuries and incidents sustained by workers in their homes even though they have little control over the home environment.
What does the Working From Home Policy template cover?
Our Working From Home Policy template covers:
★ Responsibilities – the responsibilities of any team member working remotely, and their supervisor(s)
★ Equipment – details of equipment and furniture required to establish a productive and ergonomic workspace at home
★ Communication – any protocols or rules around communication, including frequency and method of communication
★ Availability – how often employees are permitted to work from home, subject to agreement with the employer
★ On Site – any specific requirements for employees to be on site for meetings, check-ins etc
★ Review of arrangement – how often the work from home arrangement will be reviewed to make sure it is suitable for all parties
You have an obligation as an employer to ensure the health and safety of workers. This duty extends to work that they complete remotely or from home. Having a working from home policy can help you meet these obligations by providing guidelines for safe work. We also recommend you have a WHS Policy to formally document the responsibility of employees and others in contributing to a safe workplace.
What are some common challenges for employees working from home?
Here are some of the most common challenges you will face when implementing a Working From Home Policy:
★ Lack of supervision – Most employees are used to checking in with their manager a few times a day. When everyone is working from home, those conversations may change from in-person catch-ups and afternoon meetings to messages on Slack or Micosoft Teams. Some employees may need more or less supervision, so it’s important to plan for how your team will manage this when you’re scattered.
★ Productivity – Work from home productivity will be different than in-office work. For some, it may be more efficient, but for others, capacity and output may shift until workers become more comfortable in their new environment. Be understanding that it’s challenging for anyone to work in a new environment.
★ Isolation – People are social, and part of having a strong company culture is that your employees enjoy spending time together. Create regular check-ins for your team, put the best technology for your team to work, and offer support when needed.
★ Distractions at home – Whether it’s kids, pets, tradesmen or a stack of laundry, there are going to be distractions. Remember that there are also distractions at the office, just of a different variety.
★ Lack of access – Not everyone in every job is going to be able to work from home. If you run a restaurant, retail shop or medical facility, it’s next to impossible to have everyone work remotely and run your business. If you’re dealing with an emergency or critical event, consider options like staggered work shifts to allow employees to have more time outside your location as needed.
★ Expenses – Be clear on who’s paying for what and how you’ll cover hardware or software expenses for employees to create their WFH space.
How often should we update our Working From Home Policy?
A policy is not a static document. Instead it’s a collaborative document that evolves and improves over time.
We recommend that you evaluate your policy at frequent intervals by using surveys and manager check-ins, and tweak it according to feedback you receive from both employees and managers.
Is this Working From Home Policy template legal?
All of our templates have been drafted by qualified Australian lawyers who hold an Australian legal practicing certificate.
We are affiliated with a commercial law firm based in Sydney.