working from home

As a business owner I’m often asked about a practice being embraced more frequently by many organizations, yet discouraged by others: working remotely.

Working from home is consistently up for debate in an era where many employees are looking to prioritize work-life balance and time with their family.

While working from home can be a beneficial job perk for some, there is a question I always tell business leaders to ask before moving forward with a broad policy for their employees: Have they earned it?

Let me explain what I mean. In order to work from home, the employee must be a dependable, trustworthy asset to the organization, and someone who does not require micromanagement – or much management at all.

If you are confident in the individual’s capabilities as a worker, and they have earned your trust within the office walls, then it might be appropriate to consider whether a work from home option is possible.  This is assuming that it makes sense for that specific role to be remote and not part of the greater team.

If the employee needs a lot of hand holding, overseeing and supervision, working from home isn’t the best option for them or the organization. Working remotely is a benefit that should be rewarded to reliable employees who have proven themselves.

The question of whether an in-office environment yields better overall results is up for debate and varies by individual and job duties. Last fall I wrote about Yahoo and HP ending their work from home options – while this stirred up much controversy about work life balance, these companies cited the need for in-person collaboration as a primary reason for ending this option.

Of course, there are often extenuating circumstances for situations in a professional environment, and this issue is certainly not black and white.

If you choose to allow working from home as a benefit, make sure you are clear on the ground rules:

  • How many days a week is it allowed?
  • What is the productivity measure that will be used to determine if the arrangement is effective?
  • How are weekly/monthly staff meetings handled?
  • How often does the employee need to show up to the office?
  • Who is responsible for ithe business tools needed at home? (phone, printer, etc.)
  • Is this perk in lieu of additional compensation?
  • What is the effect on workers compensation insurance for an injury that happens at home while working?

These are just a few of the questions to consider!

What do you think? Should working remotely be an earned right, or a given job perk regardless of performance?