While some companies had work-from-home (WFH) practices in place long before COVID-19 emerged, many did not. Many had to scramble to get employees into remote settings, except for those who have been classified as essential workers.
Chris Wilson, CEO at Smart Furniture in Chattanooga, Tennessee, says that over the past few months, he’s heard from many business leaders—an increasing number in Human Resources—interested in getting their remote teams established with the best at-home policies possible.
Taking a Long-Term Approach
Initially, says Wilson, many employers acted quickly to provide stipends to team members to help them be more comfortable working from home. The top purchases these stipends were used for tended to be office chairs, he says.
Recently, though, he says he’s “seen a jump in other items such as footrests and desk converters as people are realizing we’re going to be working from home for quite some time.”
Now, he says, “the trend is looking to be a long-term paradigm shift.” Business leaders, he adds, are realizing that “there is much more to creating a high-quality working situation that continuously affords productivity, innovation and equity.”
The Big 3
While Wilson acknowledges that each business will be unique and, therefore, employee WFH needs will vary, he usually endorses three key considerations for those with much of their workforce working remotely:
- Periodic stipend disbursements so employees can continuously improve their WFH environments.
- Allow for flexibility. It’s not “all or nothing” these days. Some employees may be entirely remote for the foreseeable future. Others may need to occasionally come into their physical work settings. For these, Wilson says, employers should consider establishing alternative working solutions that might include flexible hours or periodic in-office working visits. Those who need to come in should be assured of safety through steps like separated workstations and strict disinfecting policies.
- Consider exercise-from-home offerings. These, says Wilson, can help augment traditional offerings that might only be available on-site, like a fitness or wellness center. Instead, he says, contributions to exercise-from-home packages or options like Peloton can help employees stay well and ensure they’re not being negatively impacted compared with others who may be on-site.
The landscape is likely to remain fluid for some time as we navigate the pandemic. There are no “right or wrong” answers. Employers will appreciate the ability to provide feedback and employee flexibility when helping them adapt to these rapid changes in ways that are supportive of their needs, no matter where they are physically located.