Do you let your employees work from home at least some of the time? That’s great. Dozens of studies have shown that the ability to work remotely is one of the biggest perks employees of all ages desire. But is your work at home policy inciting jealousy and resentment in the ranks?
That’s not so great. But chances are, according to a recent survey by Kona, that’s what’s happening.
Seven in 10 workers in the Kona survey say they would rather telecommute than work in the office. Among those between the ages of 35 and 44, the number is even higher at 81 percent.
But the majority of employees (57 percent) in offices that allow remote work say the policy spurs jealousy among those who don’t get to work at home.
How can you make sure working at home makes your employees more productive, not more resentful?
Your Work at Home Policy
Set a Work At Home Policy
You should write a work at home policy as part of your employee manual. Every employee should read and acknowledge it.
The work at home policy should cover issues such as hours to be worked per day or week, how the person will protect the business’s confidential information, liability issues, what equipment will be provided and how the employee will be monitored when working at home.
Be Sure Your Policy Can’t be Construed as Discriminatory
Clearly, not all jobs can be done at home. For instance, your accounting clerk might be able to work from home, while your retail sales clerk can’t. What’s important is that you treat all employees in the same job classification or with the same duties the same when it comes to working at home.
If you let one accounting clerk work from home because she has children and don’t allow a childless accounting clerk to do the same, you could be at risk of a lawsuit. And you’re likely causing gossip and resentment.
The only reason to treat employees in the same job differently is if one has a legitimate reason for needing to work at home that is not discriminatory. For instance, if one worker has a disability that requires working from home. As you can see, this area can be tricky, so it’s best to consult an attorney to review your work at home policy.
Communication is key for businesses with virtual workers. When employees who work in the office feel they can never reach the work at home staff, or don’t understand why certain people are working at home, resentment grows.
Everyone on your team should know the expectations for work at home employees, including what hours they are supposed to be available, multiple ways to reach them (email, phone, IM, etc.) and what tasks they are working on.
Emphasize to work at home employees the importance of keeping a high profile so others on the team see that they’re working.
Monitor Work At Home Employees
There are many ways to do this, from having them check in with status reports every few hours to using time-tracking software like Toggl to using software that monitorswhat they’re doing on their computers.
Resentment occurs when employees feel that others are taking advantage of your work at home policy. To ensure employees aren’t abusing the privilege of working at home, it’s crucial to regularly review their productivity, progress and results. This can be done differently depending on the job and the person, but you might want to set daily or weekly goals or quotas.
Check in with remote employees quarterly or even monthly to make sure that everything is still working out. Remind workers that telecommuting is a privilege that must be earned, not a right, and you’ll get better results.
Reserve the Right to End the Work At Home Policy
Speaking of privileges, your work at home policy should state that you have the right to forbid telecommuting at any time. Otherwise, you may find yourself in legal hot water if you want to pull a Marissa Mayer (or Tony Hsieh) and have everyone work in the office.
Address Jealousy Openly
Despite your best efforts, it’s inevitable that people will get jealous—they’re only human.
When these issues arise don’t push them aside. Be alert for resentments that are brewing. Address these issues with the person who’s expressing jealousy. You may find the root cause is something completely different than someone else working at home – and that you can nip it in the bud to create a much happier employee.
Jealous Photo via Shutterstock