Work From Home Policy Being Abused By Employees - CiteHR
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Cite Contribution
Community Manager
Recruitment/talent Acquisition, Career Counselling
Learning & Teaching Fellow (retired)
Raj Kumar Hansdah
Shrm, Od, Hrd, Pms
Director Of Company
Corporate Training,voice & Accent,management
+4 Others

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Hi Members,
I manage the HR requirements for a small but global IT company that facilitates other IT giants market their products - Channel marketing. Our Account Managers and Program Managers need to stay in constant contact with their clients, customers and colleagues. Most of them have got permission to work or provide support from home and as we work across different time zones they sometimes need to attend meetings from home.
A couple of them are abusing this privilege by applying to work from home whenever they have some personal challenge.They are allowed because their reporting Head is located in the states where most of the employees work from home by design and save on commuting time.
Can anyone help me by suggesting a proper work from home policy that can curtail such abuses.
Thank you in Advance,
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Dear Ashok,

You have written that "A couple of them are abusing this privilege by applying to work from home whenever they have some personal challenge."

We need clarification here. What you mean by "abusing"?

"Work from home", this facility is given to those employees whose targets are well defined. What quantum of work they need to do in what span of time is defined. Certain kind of work does not require personal interaction with other departments. Many things can be managed on telephone, e-mail etc and this facility of work from home is given to those employees only. Then where is the question of "abusing facility" is coming?

Organisations are resorting to "work from home" so that they can save on electricity, water consumption and so on. In fact few organisations are encouraging employees to work from home only. It is mentioned in their appointment letter as well.

Everything has its flip side. A woman employee while working from home, could be monitoring "homework" that her child does after coming back from school. Someone else could be catching catnap too. But then considering the savings that you do, give them this leeway and ignore it.

By the way, what is the productivity of persons who work in office? There are extended tea or lunch breaks, long chats either in person or on telephone etc. Secondly, what about smoke breaks or engagement with "social media"?


Dinesh V Divekar
Dear Ashok,
We understand its the people who are close to power centres whom you are trying to bring to the books. There are numerous measures for work-from-home, however, none of it may work for you. Please observe and discuss with the reporting managers to these people on what should be the measures .
There are tons of tracking software, but that may not provide you any solution as the job content can be beyond the scope of those softwares.
Accountability to their jobs can be best explained by their reporting leaders. Call for a KRA review and identify the changes in the deliverables. Find measures and attach rankings or scores to them.
At the end of the day, keep it human , as it remains a benefit, more than a work arrangement. Telecommute offers lesser salary as the freedom to perform is higher. Build a new scorecard for these employees. Trust , that should help.
Hello Ashok,
While concurring with both Dinesh & (Cite Contribution), there's another aspect of the whole HR perspective that you may need to consider.
'Work from home' concept/practice essentially came into being to make HR policies more flexible, while at the same time, ensuring the work gets done & BOTH the employee & organization benefit--sort of Win-Win situation.
Now, you wish to, in a way, 'take the clock backwards'.
Rather than focusing on whether the guy is 'abusing' the facility or not [whose definition, like Dinesh pointed-out, COULD vary from person to person], suggest IF the work/target/deadline is getting effected. If not, just forget it. Having said this, if AT ALL you wish to tweet the practice a bit in your company, suggest speak to the Reporting Managers & tighten the targets a bit.
There are basic premises behind any work from policy. You have used the term abusing. I dont know what u mean by that? Gone are the days where the supervisor looks over the shoulder of the subordinate every 5 minutes and decides (judges) whether the employee is performing or not. Today the whole concept of employee performance has shifted from tracking inputs using terms such as obedient, hard and sincere worker, dedicated employee ... (whatever it meant earlier) to tracking performance on clearly defined and transparent performance indicators. In such a situation there is nothing like abusing the facility... as it is irrelevant to the company as to what, when and how he does his work so long as the defined performance metrics are achieved and of not reward based on defined performance based reward system. Regarding the employee using emails to seek other jobs etc., I honesty, firmy and sincerely believe that dont waste your time, energy and peace of mind by getting into these irrelevant matters, as the employee has the absolute right to seek other jobs and even if he were to sit your your office where you block access to employment sites.. in this open world he can anyway do what he wants to do from his own internet connection or several other means after office hours ...... So I tend to go with Dinesh, (Cite Contribution) and others above. So get this idea of someone abusing positons, WFH faclities etc. of your head and try to understand if your employee has any real issues, why he is looking elsewheere ..... you will be better off. Today we are in a situation where your objective is to attract and retain your team and not coerse them into your ways. It just wont work
Dear Dinesh,
Very well said. You hit the nail, spot on.. :-)
If the option itself says ' Work from Home', why bother, how they use it, as long as the work they are responsible / accountable for gets done on time. Else it gets questioned by default.
you SHOULD not worry about the employees applying to work from home as far as their performance does not effect your business ,if it does then you need to think for a solution,if the tardget is completed then y worry .see that you give them a target and ask them to report every eveng at the closing time .
see if it works for you
Dear Ashok, They can fill in the time sheets and report what have done for the time allotted. This would be one way of tracking them. And of course the deadlines Asha
Dear Ashok,

Others have given you very good ideas and, hence, let me ask a few questions before giving some examples.

Have the line managers of these employees complained about their performance? If not, how do you know that they are misusing the facility?

I have worked in academia in two types of institutions: a college, where the teaching staff are expected to be on the premises 5 days a week from 9 till 5 whether they have classes to take or not, and a university where we had to be present when we had classes and attend meetings counsel students, etc. In the latter, when I have informed the office that I would be working from home, they have been very apologetic when they have phoned me for advice. I in my pert have corresponded with students by email and given guidance about their projects even when on a vacation in India.

Similarly, when people are dealing with people in different time zones, flexibility and honesty is the key. If the managers are not complaining then why bother??
When you don't have a process to set measurable goals & track performance of individuals; when the HR perceptions are that the people working from home tend to enjoy life; when you refuse to understand concepts such as 'virtual office' & when you are merely looking for ways and means to fix some people; you tend to focus on those employees who have been permitted to work from home & occasionally label them as 'abusing a privilege'. You fail to realize that this privilege was forced on them because of your own compulsions to provide work benches & Admin support during odd timings in a day. The financial overheads were probably unaffordable to make them work from an office.

Therefore, please put your processes in place on how to make them accountable on job performance parameters (viz, targets/ KPIs for each goal/ task/ KRA). And if you can't do that because of the lack of maturity of your monitoring & control processes, think twice before doubting the integrity of people. Remember that people, in general, enjoy doing their work, provided their managers know how to extract work out of them.

To my mind, therefore, it is your system's failure if someone is truly 'abusing a privilege'.
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