Working from Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Posted on 03/19/20 By Brittany K. King
The rapid spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is significantly impacting life in the United States. Media headlines are filled with news that major events have been canceled, from trade shows and business meetings to music festivals and sporting events.
But it’s not just festivals and sports leagues that are worried about the spread of COVID-19. Major corporations across the U.S. have enacted coronavirus work policies, specifically allowing employees to work from home.
With the growing concern of COVID-19 in the United States, companies must seriously consider implementing a work from home policy to help prevent the spread of the respiratory disease. For some companies, work-from-home policies are nothing new. With commonly available high-speed Internet access, smartphones, cloud computing, and other high-tech innovations, commuting to an office is merely a formality.
Most professionals can work from anywhere they can connect their laptops to the internet. Employees have been found to be more productive when they have the chance to work remotely and offering remote work policies can help retain workers and reduce turnover.
Whether your organization is being pushed to create a work-from-home policy to deal with the current public health crisis, or just looking to improve and expand existing initiatives, employees and supervisors need to learn how to be effective at home.
As an Employee: How to Work from Home
Working from home can be productive, freeing, but also distracting. Mitigate disruptions and learn how to treat a day at home like any other at the office.
1. Create a schedule and routine
Everyone has a morning routine before work, and that shouldn’t stop just because you’re at home. Make the bed, drink coffee, get dressed, and break for lunch just as you usually would. Maintaining a routine will help mentally prepare you to sit down and work.
2. Establish rules at home
Roommates, significant others, children, and pets are notorious distractors. Set ground rules with your household and ask for seclusion in your home-office workstation during peak working hours.
3. Structure your day
Plan your day around completing high-priority tasks during normal business hours, just as you would in the office. Do your best to stay on track with normal project deadlines and expectations when you work from home.
4. Communicate and participate
Avoid being a hermit. Chat or call your coworkers with questions as if you were sitting next to them and don’t be afraid to utilize conference calls or video chat in place of meetings. Remember: it’s best to overcommunicate when working from home.
As a Supervisor: How to Manage Remote Employees
The absence of face-to-face interaction can be stressful for professionals managing employees who work from home. However, a lack of presence does not always equate to a drop in productivity.
1. Individualize your attention
Employees who work remotely often feel isolated and forgotten. Make time for one-on-one phone calls or video chats so your workers don’t feel out of the loop.
2. Communicate expectations
Regularly communicating with your employees is critical. At the office, employees can drop by and ask about deadlines, processes, and updates. When the office works from home, it’s up to you to convey your expectations.
3. Trust your employees
In the end, trusting your employees to do their work is the most important factor. A good employee cares about their work, no matter the location. Creating basic work from home guidelines for employees should be enough to make the endeavor successful.
Can Hourly and Non-Exempt Employees Work from Home?
Allowing exempt employees to work from home is rarely a headache, but it can be challenging to keep track of hourly and non-exempt remote workers.
Follow these guidelines for your non-salaried remote employees:
• Make sure your employees produce proper time records.
• Create written overtime policies and communicate when it is and isn’t expected.
• Provide necessary tools needed for remote work, like a company laptop or phone.
Free Webinars: Working from Home Tips
To better support your work-from-home initiatives during the COVID-19 crisis, Lorman will offer the following on-demand webinars for free:
- Work From Home Programs Do's and Don'ts
- Managing Telecommuting in a Changing Legal Environment
- Time Management Best Practices When Working at Home: Focusing on What Matters Most
- Workers' Compensation Liability and the Remote Employee
- Hot Wage and Hour Issues: Overtime Concerns With Remote Access and Mobile Devices
- Practical Tips for Managing Virtual Teams and Off-Site Employees
- The Long Distance Leader: Strategies for Leaders Separated From Their Team by Location and Time Zones
Brainstorming sessions can be extremely valuable. They are a great way to engage employees, get ideas you might not have otherwise considered, and help keep your team connected — especially when everyone is working remotely.
A common buzzword in the corporate world is 'employee burnout'. This phrase is often downplayed, but according to the The World Health Organizations, burnout is a serious condition that has major effects on the workplace.