On Tuesday, February 16, we talked to a group of HR professionals about working from home and how to set up a strategic policy for it. During this webinar, we discussed the three steps you need to take in order to design a strategic policy, but we also learned from each other's experiences with this. In this summary, we discuss the three steps and the tips that were discussed.
Just under 20% of the participants already have a home office policy and 25.8% are in the process of setting one up. This means that just under 55% have not yet taken any steps at all in drafting a homework policy. We recognize this picture in the market. With the first lockdown, working from home was arranged ad hoc. When everyone was obliged to work from home overnight, being able to work from home was arranged immediately. So, facilitating working from home in a practical way was, understandably, paramount. Employees were mainly given temporary items to take home from the office. Things like a keyboard, mouse, monitor, and office chair were no longer used there for the time being anyway.
However, working from home appears to be here to stay. Research by TNO  shows that almost 1 in 4 employees wants to continue working at home after the pandemic and 43% wants to combine working at home with working at the office. A hybrid system is therefore the most obvious choice. But how do you approach this in a structured way? And how do you consider both the facilities and the mental and physical well-being of employees? It is precisely that well-being that received little attention during the rapid implementation. So now is the time to go back to basics and shape the home working policy from step 1.
Step 1: every strategic policy starts with insight and overview
When drawing up a strategic policy plan, it is important to first create an overview and gain insight into the needs of both your employees and your company itself. So, it's not just about the wishes, needs and vision of HR alone, the management or a group of articulate employees, but about everyone in the company. This insight can be solved in different ways, depending on the size of your company.
When asking about the needs and wants of your employees, you don't just look at the design of the workplace. You also take the well-being into account. How can you ensure together that the employee works in a healthy posture? How can the social aspect be best fulfilled? Consider the different stages of life of people. Someone with small children at home has different needs than a single person or someone who is also an informal caregiver.
"To set up a homemaking policy, I go first"
Step 2: Set goals and write down the policy
Once you have insight and overview, you start to shape and write down the policy. In doing so, you start by formulating the goal of the policy: what do you want to achieve with working from home? Do you purely want to facilitate working from home? Is it also important to provide a better work-life balance? Or are you (also) concerned with the environmental impact of reducing emissions due to less travel? Having a clear goal gives your policy focus and direction.
To make a whole from all the separate parts, it is important to determine which parts are the most urgent and which parts yield the most. By testing these items within the budget, you create a prioritization. With this prioritization, you create a timeline of when you will pick up what.
When rolling out the policy, communication largely determines the degree of success. By communicating clearly and transparently about how the goals and choices have been reached. If you show how the wishes and needs of the employees are met, they will feel heard.
"What is the most important part of your policy?
Tip from the participants: Go back to the 'purpose' at each separate step, so you keep focus per part and the total remains correct.
Step 3: evaluate and adjust
The last step is at least as important as the first two steps. A nice document is not enough. The policy must actually work. Structure is the magic word here. By paying attention to the elaboration of the homework policy systematically and for a longer period, you ensure a lasting effect. As we mentioned earlier in the difference between the first and second lockdown, the sentiment towards working from home can change over time. New insights and desires may also arise. This is precisely why evaluation is so important. In fact, you need to take step 1 again occasionally: make sure you check the insight into the wishes and needs and the vision. Does it need to be adjusted? Then adjust the policy by means of step 2 and communicate this clearly to the employees.
"How do you measure the success of your policy?
In order to evaluate properly, a baseline measurement is needed in the first place. With this you establish the starting point. With the baseline measurement you can test the effect on, for example, productivity or absenteeism, but also of involvement and cooperation. Step 3 also starts with the beginning: insight and overview.
Tip from the participants: Ensure continuous contact with employees. This can be done through surveys, but especially through personal contact. A personal conversation has the advantage of being able to ask questions tailored to your needs.
Would you like to know more about this? We are happy to think along with you.
Linked-in community working from home: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9026843/
Workwize | Live Smart, Work Wize