It has come to our attention that self-employed people have somehow escaped the burden of “office policies”. No longer. Now even work-from-home hermits can revel in the burden of “office policies.” (This is part three of a series that began at http://www.thehappyguy.com/hermit.html and continued at http://thehappyguy.com/pajamas.html)
Every office needs office policies, if for no other reason to keep employees from scratching each others’ eyes out or “borrowing” company equipment. The home office is no exception.
If you are wondering why somebody barricaded alone in his basement needs a policy to keep him from stealing his own office equipment, you have obviously never sat alone in your basement 23 hours a day, day after day, in front of a computer screen that freezes every now and then just out of sadistic spite.
Policies designed to keep employees from scratching each others’ eyes out are even more important in a home office. In a corporate setting, spiteful employees go home at night and forget the objects of their loathing. But when one detests oneself, office politics often gets too personal to just forget. And that pest even follows you into the shower…when you take one, that is.
Here are a few guidelines you can use to formulate practical home office policies, just in case you get the hankering to live the glamorous life of the work-from-home hermit.
Every office has rules against sexual harassment. Due to legal requirements, you must adopt a zero tolerance policy for such insensitive advances. If your spouse complains about such a policy, seek legal council. Divorce can be ugly.
Office romance is another story. Most companies permit office romances, as long as there is not an actual office involved. In the home office, romance is encouraged, mostly to avoid the legal repercussions mentioned above.
Generally, spouses do not frown on home office affairs, either. In fact, they usually approve such morale-building activities…as long as this function is not outsourced.
Inventory control in the home office is key. Large companies have policies like: “It is forbidden to remove paper fastening devices from company premises, except within envelopes being disseminated through official company channels.”
Home office inventory control should focus instead on “consumables”. Here is recommended wording for your policy: “Stop hoarding the cupcakes. Leave them in the kitchen.”
In major corporations, absenteeism is a serious problem. Most companies have policies against calling in sick every day. The reverse is true in home offices, where employee omnipresence has been proven to cause psychological trauma in overworked computer keyboards.
Most companies have policies on showing up late for work. Most work-from-home hermits do not know what this means. No policy required.
Many large employers encourage car pooling. Please resist the temptation to car pool to your home office. The SUV might have a great sound system, but it just won’t fit through the dining room door.
Pets are not permitted in most office settings. In your home office, roaming animals are an important customer service feature: “Yes, I agree. Your report should claim that profits are swollen, not stolen. Must’ve been that darn cat frolicking on the keyboard again.”
Many companies expressly forbid employees from viewing objectionable content on the Internet. Seasoned work-from-home hermits know that ALL content on the Internet is objectionable, especially after 23 hours in front of the computer screen.
Confidentiality is sacred with large employers. Employees are forbidden to divulge information they see pass over their desks. In the home-office, policies are required to prevent hermits from divulging what they see when they pass out under the desk. Mostly dust bunnies. My wife enforces this policy.
I was asked recently by a survey company if my business is wheel-chair accessible. I responded, “My business is a website. Why would you want to roll a wheelchair over my website?” Maybe I need a policy on that.
A final word on office gossip. Don’t. If gossip in the home office gets out of control, whose feelings are going to get hurt? Right! And who else’s? Right again. If self-inflicted humiliation is not for you, maybe you are more cut out for a job that involves policies against “removing paper fastening devices from the premises”.
About the author
David Leonhardt writes the Happy Guy humor column:
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He also wrote Inspiration & Motivation To Go
and Climb Your Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness: