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Do you have an unpleasant work from home experience? An HR response to a WFH open letter

 
illustration of working from home
 
Because of the pandemic, most businesses were “forced” to adapt to the work-from-home arrangements¬†provided for by the telecommuting act. And this resulted in several issues to both employer and employee, as I previously wrote and discussed in my last webinar.
 
Most employers have been vocal about the productivity issues they are encountering, not to mention a handful of attitudes some entitled employees have.
 
On the employees’ side, this is openly discussed in social media, but it was recently amplified by an open letter to HR published in Rappler. Though it was written more than a month ago, I wish to offer a solution to address the issues caused by the ill-prepared adaption of work from home scheme.
 
 

Employer due diligence

 
Pandemic-induced work-from-home arrangement is different from pre-planned telecommuting. COVID-19 stripped most companies of the opportunity to prepare for a hybrid workplace. In a pre-pandemic era, the “employer” as part of due diligence, go thru the following assessment before allowing an employee to work from home:

  1. Job suitability
     
    Can employee work be done remotely? Not all jobs are meant for work-from-home arrangements, i.e. messengers, cashiers etc.
  2.  

  3. Workspace standards
     
    Is the suggested workspace (by the employee) conducive for productivity and mental wellness?  Offsite work, whether at home or someplace else, should meet the minimum requirements to get the job done (ambient lighting, ergonomic office furniture, soundproofing, internet speed) and ensure the protection of the welfare of employees (privacy and mental wellness). i.e. the workspace ideally should not be in the bedroom. Otherwise, the psychological barrier separating stress-producing place of work and the place of refuge/ rest are shattered.
  4.  

  5. Productivity management system
     
    Do you have clear goals, and how these goals will be carried out? When expectations are leveled, and how accomplishments will be measured is clear, trust issues are reduced, and performance evaluations less subjective.
  6.  

  7. Administrative arrangements
     
    Do you have a system to ensure compliance with general labor standards? Do you have a policy on equipment and tools? i.e. BYOD or company-provided gadgets? Will you subsidize employee costs on the internet and other utilities?
  8.  

  9. Security and risk management
     
    The company should have placed a system to ensure compliance with relevant laws like data privacy, protection of both employer and employee from cybercriminals, and standards for employer reputation management.

 
Since we have been in pandemic for more than a year, companies who were forced to adapt to a hybrid workplace should have gone thru the above process to address the problems they have encountered along the way.
 
 

Employee due diligence

 
Before you celebrate the approval of your work from home arrangements, go clarify these with your employer:
 

  1. What are the rules and standards for remote work?
     
    This is important, so make sure you do not miss this part. Future problems, like the writer of the open letter experienced, are prevented if you can clarify, define, and level expectations with your employer.
  2.  

  3. Will they provide ergonomic fixtures,  gadgets, and tools for remote work? If you will provide your own what are the rules governing these?
     
    Ideally,  employers should provide for these, however, we are not in a normal situation. Whether these will be provided for, subsidized or you will provide it yourself, make sure you have clear guidelines to prevent future issues and/or abuses.
  4.  

  5. Will they pay for your internet, electrical usage, and other miscellaneous expenses?
    Same comments as on item 2
  6.  

  7. Will you be given training and support to be good at your job?
     
    Though you are working from home, you are equally entitled to the same support given to employees working on-site
  8.  

  9. Check if you are into flexible time arrangements or time-specific?
     
    This is equally important as item #1. Lots of employees lose their mental balance because of flexi-time arrangements.
    Wifey is also in a work from home arrangements. Supposedly, they are not into flexible time arrangements but together with her colleagues, they allowed a culture where they hold meetings, webinars at 9 PM or even on weekends. I have to call her attention to restore our mental balance and the sanctity of our home.

 
To Patricia, thank you for your open letter. Hoping the civil service or the LGU HR in charge in your area will be able to consider the areas I mentioned in this article and do a work-up with you to improve on the guidelines.
 
And to both employers and employees who were forced to work from home, feel free to go through my suggested action steps to address common problems you have encountered. If you need help, just reach out.
 
 
For companies who already have a system in place for hybrid work arrangements, help out by sharing some tips in the comments section.
 
 
 

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