If your employees are now working from home or in some way working remotely, you’ve probably already worked out the infrastructure kinks: Between email, phone calls, texts, and messaging platforms (Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc.), communicating and collaborating may not be perfect… but you’re making it work.
Which is when many boss’s thoughts naturally turn to the next step: Creating a work from home policy.
For any leader faced with the new normal — and especially for people whose leadership style skews towards command and control — suddenly needing to manage a distributed workforce can feel extremely uncomfortable.
But it can also provide the perfect opportunity — since, really, you have no choice — to shift to a more effective leadership style.
So don’t be tempted to create a comprehensive list of expectations, guidelines, procedures, policies… and worst of all, potential repercussions.
Your work-from-home policy can be, as I’ve written about before, three short sentences:
- Get your work done.
- Be available.
How people work, when they work, whether they’re incredibly efficient and able to get all their work done in six hours, or whether they’re relatively inefficient and take ten hours… barring any intra-day deadlines, who cares?
Bill Gates used to memorize employee license plates so he could look out the window to see who was still at work. Eventually, he realized that managing by results was more important… and a much better use, as a leader, of his time.
So don’t worry about how many hours your employees work. Lead and manage by expectations and deliverables, not by virtual “butts in seats.”
What matters is what gets done.
The same is true for availability and communication. It goes unsaid that employees should be available during work hours. It goes unsaid that employees should communicate problems, issues, challenges… as well as ideas, suggestions, and opportunities.
So just say that. Say, “This is a challenging situation, and we need everyone’s best — especially their best ideas.”
Aside from that? Treat your employees like the professionals they are. They know the situation. They know what’s at stake.
And if one person doesn’t? Deal with any performance issues as a one-off situation, not as a reason to add bullet points to your work from home policy.
Because good employees don’t need policies. They just want to know what really needs to get done.
Wherever they’re working.