Years ago, before I had my own company, I was a field sales rep who worked from home. I'd start the day just like I was going into the office: I'd put on my suit, grab a cup of coffee, and sit down at my desk to prepare for the calls I was going to make. My wife would laugh, look at me like I was a crazy person, and ask, "Why in the world would you get into your suit if you're working from home?" I'd always tell her that I needed to be in the right mindset, to convince myself that I was at work, and not at home. I needed my suit to psyche myself up for a day of work as "sales rep Chris," rather than "husband and father Chris." Good intentions be damned, it never worked for me.
After some time at my desk, I'd find myself walking to the fridge to make a sandwich and I'd end up playing with my dog. Bottom line: I found the distractions of my home too enticing. I had to be honest with myself and quickly transition back to a typical office environment.
Frankly, it's always been difficult for me to reconcile my own experience with the experience of my employees who work from home regularly. That's why I was so surprised when I talked to a colleague who described her days at home as the exact antithesis of my own. To her, the distractions of the office are plenty. At home she has a secluded place where she can intently focus in all her unshowered glory. With the extra time she gets by eliminating her commute, she's able to finish major projects. It was a good lesson in the importance of knowing your individual employees, understanding how they work, and discovering what makes them tick.
When one person abuses a company's WFH policy, it ruins what can be a productive perk for everyone. To assume that no one works well at home is a disservice to the employees who flourish when they can be independent and absorbed in their work at home.
Your job is to build a culture full of employees who are engaged and deserving of mutual trust. In return, your employees need to know themselves well enough to be able to honestly assess their productivity and efficiency while working remotely. Unfortunately, some will make the grade in that regard and some simply won't. It doesn't make you a bad person if you fall in the latter camp; I am one of those people myself. But it's our job as leaders to emphasize to employees that their personal and professional integrity is on the line, so they need to answer truthfully when asking themselves what it looks like when they work from home.