How to Create Remote Work Policy?
It can be challenging to keep things organized when you work with a remote team or in a hybrid environment. You want all of your employees to feel like part of the team. You strive to give them equal opportunities and support, but the distance can make those things difficult.
What’s more, there is something else that can make it even harder: the lack of a remote work policy. In this article, we’ll outline not only why you need a remote work policy but also how to start implementing one immediately.
What is a Remote Work Policy?
A remote work policy outlines the methods and guidelines concerning how employees should conduct their work from home or outside of the office.
Such a policy provides a sense of order and security to remote employees, as well as outlines expectations and the foundations that everyone in the company can rely on. As a result, your team members can focus on the tasks that have been assigned to them with peace of mind. They’ll know everything else will be handled according to the company’s guidelines in its remote work policy.
By creating and maintaining a remote work policy, teams are more likely to achieve their goals, maintain productivity, and be satisfied with their work.
Remote work policies determine both the rights and actions of employers or employees. It helps to ensure that the goals and requirements of both parties are met.
It’s therefore understandable that companies often require their remote workers to adhere to such policies. When employers provide all of the necessary tools for effective and secure remote work, they would naturally like their employees to be engaged, productive, and efficient.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Thus, if the opposite situation occurs, disciplinary action may be taken against remote employees. This action could be as severe as termination of their employment contract.
Employees and employers should be aware of the consequences of disobedience that are outlined in a remote work policy so that they both know what to do if unpleasant situations arise.
Does Your Company Need a Remote Work Policy?
If you want to make sure that everyone in your organization is on the same page, you should have a remote work policy.
Here’s the hurdle though: do you really need one?
You might wonder whether or not your business needs a remote work policy if your team, or a part of it, doesn’t work remotely.
The answer is yes.
With a new generation of talent being willing to and capable of working almost exclusively remotely, the job market is becoming more challenging for employers. If you want your business to grow, you may need to look further than your local area for employees. Employers that refuse to accept the hybrid or remote working model in 2021 might be a major reason for employees to change jobs.
Also, you should never rule out lockdowns or other unpredictable circumstances that could close the world down again, causing more people to work remotely.
Remote work is here to stay, regardless of its form. Even if your business has only just begun adopting a remote work model or might do so in the near future, you will still benefit from developing a remote work policy.
Apart from making your company less vulnerable to home office challenges, a remote work policy comes with several other benefits:
- It facilitates communication between employers and employees
- It can be referred to in case of internal issues
- It is another asset for onboarding
- It helps build a healthy workplace for everyone
By having a remote work policy, your company can communicate its expectations clearly without any confusion. Employees want transparency from an employer and vice versa, which is only fair given all the trust invested by both parties when working remotely.
7 Steps to Mastering Your Remote Work Policy
Step 1: Outline the purpose of your remote work policy
First things first. There should always be a clear purpose statement in every remote work policy to explain why it is necessary.
Answering the questions below may help you to narrow down the goal of your remote work policy:
- Do you hope to increase the performance of your remote team by introducing new rules?
- Is creating a remote work policy mandated by stakeholders or pushed by coworkers?
- Would you like to specify how your organization plans to combine on-site, remote, and hybrid work?
- Are there any particular issues you would like to address by having a remote work policy in your organization?
Identifying the goal is important not only from the employer’s standpoint, but it also usually resonates with employees.
A remote work policy is more than just a management tool. It will help you figure out how to support your team members so that they are not only productive but also satisfied. No matter if they work onsite, remotely, or in a hybrid model.
Essentially, a remote work policy instructs your team about what to expect when working in a remote environment and how to behave in certain situations. But it also brings the sake of clarity for everyone in the company.
In order to make sure that everyone knows why your remote work guidelines were created, we suggest placing the goal of the policy at the beginning of the document. Apart from making everyone aware of the goal, this may strengthen the feeling that everyone is working towards the same objectives.
This document contains YourCompanyCo’s remote and hybrid working policies.
It should serve as a guide for both managers and employees, and both parties should sign it acknowledging that they have read through and understood its contents.
Questions, comments, and suggestions pertaining to this document should be directed to the HR department.
Step 2: Identify the scope of your remote work policy
Remote work is dream work as long as it is described in detail and in advance. If not, it could wreak havoc in even the most organized teams that previously managed their tasks perfectly without it.
Before adopting remote work, your organization should specify the following details:
- remote work rules that cannot be broken (for example, ignoring daily standups when working remotely)
- a list of duties that may be fulfilled when working remotely (If some tasks require supervisors, onsite presence, or access to sensitive information, they often cannot be performed remotely)
- days off and sick leave when working remotely (remote workers may wish to continue working despite being ill or on vacation – make sure your remote work policy outlines how you feel about this as an employer)
A detailed plan reduces the chances of something going wrong. Your employees need guidelines for remote work. Otherwise, they won’t know what to do in certain situations without any ground rules. Having a remote work policy in place helps your employees to be successful, which can be challenging without one.
Step 3: Determine standard office procedures
There may not always be a connection between standard office practices and remote work policies, especially when an organization operates entirely remotely. Office procedures will, however, adversely affect hybrid work environments.
As part of the remote work policy in your company, you should specify the following office procedures:
- rules concerning visiting and meeting in certain office locations for remote and hybrid employees (e.g. if your office has limited desk space, some spontaneous meetings could be troublesome)
- adoption of office practices such as meeting standups or taking lunch for remote employees
- benefits related to remote work, such as telecommuting policies and mileage reimbursement
- office presence requirements, so that your remote employees will know if and when they are needed onsite (if applicable)
Remote work brings a lot of issues to discuss. But with office procedures in place, the requirements are clear for both remote and in-office employees who wish to collaborate seamlessly.
Step 4: Plan a work schedule and availability
Remote work often takes place outside the standard 9-5 model, declaring availability and planning a work schedule is crucial for a positive working environment.
If it’s crucial that some of your remote employees stick to a schedule, consider a work tracking software to track time for your remote team. This can help ensure that everyone is putting in the required number of hours.
At this stage, you should answer the following questions:
- Are remote workers expected to check in on a daily basis, or should they respond as soon as possible?
- Do the same principles apply for both remote and onsite employees? (e.g. working from 8:30am until 4:30pm)
- Do you need to schedule your remote employee’s availability a few hours in advance?
- Are your remote employees allowed to work from anywhere?
The last point deserves special attention.
Remote work might not be feasible for employees with specific tasks to accomplish. For example, employees of financial or HR departments may be required in-office if they need to process very confidential client information.
Furthermore, some IP-sensitive regulations could make certain programs unavailable remotely because they only run on the IP address of one location. In this case, remote employees would just be able to do their work when at home. Without the option of working from anywhere they like, unless using a VPN.
Step 5: Decide on communication channels and etiquette
Effective remote work relies on communication. It’s not surprising, then, that this should be specified in your remote work policy. There are some rules you can strictly enforce here, but also some good practices to follow voluntarily:
- Determine how your remote team will communicate. It can be really helpful to have remote coffee chats and daily check-ins with remote teams.
- Unify the way your company communicates. It is important, for example, to identify a specific communication platform that will be used throughout the organization.
- Encourage or require the use of simple email threads or quick video calls to stay in touch at all times.
- Include instructions about how to stay connected with the team during working hours. For example, when using some online communicator tools, you can introduce a special system for statuses (meeting, call, OOO, do not disturb, etc.)
A solid remote work policy outlines expectations regarding communication channels, privacy rights, and time zones for scheduling meetings. It also ensures that remote employees understand what’s expected of them in terms of staying connected during and outside of business hours.
For example, in your remote work policy, you can specify that any contact outside of working hours is considered overtime and will be reimbursed.
Such a policy protects company assets. It also prevents miscommunication between remote employees and their teammates by clearly defining their roles and availability.
Step 6: List (and provide) the necessary equipment
Working remotely without appropriate equipment is essentially impossible. Employees must have easy access to tools and software in order to work from home.
Your remote work policy should therefore specify what equipment can be provided by the company. The list may include:
- laptop and desktop computers
- extra hardware (such as monitors, mouse pads, keyboards, and adapters)
- Reliable software
- licenses for various softwares
- access to company files
- ergonomic chairs
If someone chooses to work remotely, it might be difficult for them to acquire or store all of these items. Companies often allocate a portion of their budget just to pay for such shopping directly by a particular remote employee.
Additionally, some companies go the extra mile and also reimburse remote employees for certain work expenses. These might include electricity bills, Internet set-up and usage costs. Even air conditioners.
If you specify these points in the policy, you will be one step closer to creating an employee-friendly remote work environment.
Step 7: Establish security measures and rules
Let’s talk about security.
Remote work opens up new avenues for security breaches. It is therefore crucial to establish clear rules for access, data sharing, and ensuring the highest level of security.
In this step, there are several questions and issues to address:
- roles eligible for remote access
- permission required to remotely connect or log in
- the length of remote sessions
- access to passwords
- sensitive data protection rules
- guidelines for sharing data internally and externally
- resources available remotely
In your remote work policy, you should outline not only all of the rules that must be followed but also the consequences of noncompliance.
Your company’s security can make or break its reputation, so make sure all security concerns are addressed thoroughly. Security violations should be punished, including taking disciplinary action if needed.
Although this section can be uncomfortable and serious at times, it’s crucial in order for your remote work policy to address potential future problems or crises.
Onto Creating Your Own Remote Work Policy
So, what kind of remote work policy are your employees going to love?
One that leaves them not feeling confused whatsoever.
Keep your remote work policy simple, concise, and crystal clear for everyone who needs to familiarize themselves with it. The more information you provide upfront, the fewer hiccups you will encounter later. If you do not already have a remote work policy like this place, the time to act is now.