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What Are Some Standard Guidelines for Working at Home?

Our software company is evaluating the idea of letting some employees work from home. However we are concerned about cutting down on distractions and making sure they remain productive. We want to provide some basic "work at home" guidelines to them. What would you suggest we include? —Set Yourself Up for Success
May 2, 2013
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Related Topics: Time Management, Labor Trends, Policies and Procedures, Telecommuting, Dear Workforce, Technology
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Dear Set Yourself Up for Success:

Meet with your manager to determine how your work and job requirements can be done remotely from your home either full time or certain days of the week.

  • Consider the effect of working at home on your customers, co-workers and manager.
  • Determine your technological needs and agree on securing the tools and appropriate training to ensure productivity at home.
  • Establish measurable performance goals and expectations.
  • Discuss concerns and potential challenges of working virtually and ways to address these issues.
  • Determine a process for regular check-in meetings to discuss how the virtual work arrangement is working – for you and the business.
  • Check in frequently with your manager and co-workers to discuss how things are going and determine how to overcome challenges that may be identified.

Set yourself up for success – at home

Set up an appropriate work space that is separate and distinct from your "home space" and conducive to working effectively without interruptions.

  • Design your work space for efficiency, with all the documents and materials you need.
  • Create a healthy workspace – good light, comfortable temperature, ergonomic adjustable chair, computer keyboard and mouse suited to your needs, telephone headset, etc.
  • Set boundaries with your family members.
  • Ensure your family members understand that although you are home, you're working.
  • Establish ground rules for work hours, interruptions, noise, etc.
  • Do not use working from home as a substitute for child care.

Focus on performance and results

Be clear on your priorities, focusing on the expectations, tasks and responsibilities you and your manager agreed upon as measures of success.

Be proactive in communicating regularly with your manager, coworkers and customers to stay connected and resolve issues as they arise.

Ensure that your accomplishments, project status, outcomes and deliverables are visible to your manager and co-workers as appropriate – avoid being out of sight, out of mind.

Invite and encourage feedback from co-workers, manager and customers about how your virtual work arrangement is affecting them.

Be accessible, responsive and reliable

Utilize appropriate communication methods to stay connected with your manager, co-workers and customers.

Update your email, voicemail greeting, staff calendar etc. on a regular basis with your schedule, availability (or not) and contact information.

Check your email and voicemail frequently.

Demonstrate trustworthiness by being predictable, reliable, taking promises seriously and following through on commitments.

Manage your work and preserve time for your life

Find ways to "disengage" from work and have quality personal time when traditional boundaries between work and home life are no longer clear.

Set reasonable limits to your work hours and determine how to meet work requirements and still preserve personal time.

Build in short breaks and work during periods of peak energy.

Source: Diane Burrus, WFD Consulting, Waltham, Mass., April 4, 2013.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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