Working from home has become a staple part of the work landscape while dealing with Covid-19 and beyond. With many businesses realising they can operate at capacity outside of the office, the desire for employees to work from the comfort of their living room, at the cafe or while travelling is here to stay.
However, every business operates differently and there are positives and negatives to working from home arrangements. Make sure to tailor your WFH Policy to suit your business’ needs, look after your employees and build a positive work atmosphere whether in the office or at home.
Elements of a WFH Policy
Purpose: The purpose section should detail the benefits of offering flexible working arrangements, the circumstances when WFH is appropriate, and the need to minimise risks to your employees and provide guidance for WFH.
Scope: The scope of the policy sets out who is eligible for WFH. You can tailor this to your business needs. For example, you may prefer that only employees who have worked at the business for a certain period of time are eligible. You may note certain types of work which are not conducive to WFH. During a health or other crisis, you could expand the scope of the WFH Policy to all employees.
Application process: Detail a process that suits your business. Generally, this would include a written application detailing the WFH arrangement (full-time, part-time, ad hoc), the duration of the arrangement, how the WFH setup complies with work, health and safety requirements (including photos) and the reason for the request.
Application approval process: The policy should note that, unless required by law, it is at the business’ discretion to approve a WFH application. The application assessment should take into account the impact on the business, compliance with work, health and safety, the employee’s ability to perform at home (including the ability to work independently and access to technology and equipment), the reason for the request and the suitability of the employee’s role for WFH.
Work, Health and Safety: This section notes the employer’s continued obligations under workplace laws. It should detail expectations for the employee’s home worksite, the approval process for the worksite and the employee’s reporting obligations. You may like to include an ability to request access to inspect the worksite or for a virtual tour of the worksite.
The provision of equipment: Detail whether the work equipment is provided, whether the business will incur the cost of new equipment or whether a WFH allowance is provided according to your preferences. You should note who owns the equipment.
Confidentiality and asset security: Detail the continued confidentiality obligations of the employee and the employee’s obligations to take reasonable precautions to secure any equipment or data owned by the business.
Roles and responsibilities: The roles and responsibilities of both employees and employers or managers should be clearly outlined. The employer’s/manager’s responsibilities may include: application assessment, ensuring work, health and safety compliance and the provision of equipment. The employee’s responsibilities may include: reporting work, health and safety concerns, being contactable during work hours, ensuring the confidentiality of business information and complying more generally with the business’ work policies.
Remote working is likely here to stay and that can be a positive thing for your business. There are many benefits to WFH arrangements and a clearly outlined WFH policy can help mitigate the disadvantages. It is best to tailor your WFH policy to suit the needs of your business.