How To Create a Policy For Working Remotely
Follow these five easy steps to build a remote work policy that protects your company and creates a productive, efficient work environment for everyone.
What’s the working remotely policy like at your company?
Does your company even have a separate remote working policy in place?
With the rise of remote work, companies are shifting their expectations, work hours, preferred methods of communication, and more. But they need to establish these guidelines for employees who may be working in a different country or timezone.
As you’ll learn in this guide, having a separate policy for out-of-the-office team members benefits both employees and employers alike.
Why Every Company Needs a Working Remotely Policy
Similar to having an in-house office policy, a separate policy for remote workers ensures that everyone is on the same page and understands the company’s expectations.
It creates a standard of fairness whether employees are in the office or working remotely. And it outlines your company’s best remote work practices and guidelines for all new hires.
This sets the tone for a professional work environment even though your staff may be entirely remote.
It also creates a streamlined and efficient process -- everyone knows the rules, what they should and should not be doing, and when their work is due.
Let’s talk about these issues more as you learn how to create a working remotely policy for your organization.
5 Steps to Create a Remote Work Policy
Follow this easy process, and you’ll have the first draft of your remote work policy by this afternoon:
Step 1: Decide Who Can Work Remotely
Is your company 100% remote (a.k.a. remote-first)?
Or are you remote-friendly? Do you give in-house employees the option to work remotely every so often? And if so, are all employees eligible for this perk?
Answers to these questions need to be spelled out in your remote work policy to eliminate all gray areas and prevent favoritism or unfair treatment.
So think about what the employees do in each of your departments to see if it makes sense to offer remote work.
Can they complete their tasks remotely without any hiccups?
Will the team collaborate effectively if they’re not in-house?
You may find that a mix of both -- remote and in-house employees -- works best too.
So think about your organizational breakdown and determine which employees may be eligible for remote work. Clearly identify these employees or situations to begin your remote work policy.
Step 2: Discuss Privacy Issues and Equipment Provided
Privacy and security control are far easier when employees are in-house and on your secure server.
As soon as they start working remotely, they’ll need to prove they’re following all your best practices out in the dangerous world of free WiFi and open networks.
If a team member shares sensitive information and passwords across public or shared WiFi, they may jeopardize your entire company’s security. They could also put you at risk of a major data breach.
That’s why it’s crucial to include rules about privacy and security information in your remote work policy.
So outline your company policies about WiFi access, sharing important documents and passwords online, and your preferred security tools so employees know exactly what to do.
Another point to include in your policy focuses on the equipment remote employees need.
Will your company supply the computer, network setup, or desk? And, if so, can employees use the computer for personal use off-hours?
The answers to these questions must be included in your remote work policy too.
If you don’t plan on providing a computer or secure internet access, but you expect both of these from your team members, that also needs to be in your working remotely policy so there’s no confusion.
Step 3: Set the Tone for Communication
Communication issues arise if you don’t set expectations early on.
To set the tone for your company’s remote communication, answer these questions:
- What communication tools will you use? How do these differ when it’s a quick check-in versus a virtual meeting?
- What about project management tools? Is there a centralized location where everyone can check-in and see what’s going on at all times?
- How often is someone supposed to check-in? Are there weekly meetings? Do employees need to check-in during off-hours like holidays and weekends?
- How fast does someone need to respond within normal work hours? What are “regular” business hours anyway?
Don’t forget: working hours change with different time zones when you’re dealing with remote employees.
So do you expect your team to be available on your company’s timezone? Or can they be flexible as long as they overlap part of your day?
Nail down these items in your remote work policy, and your team will face fewer communication snags as everyone will know what’s expected of them when it comes to staying in touch.
Step 4: Discuss Performance Metrics
Next, you should set expectations when it comes to performance.
Do you have a target number of customer service tickets your team should be tackling per hour?
Or maybe your marketing department needs a certain number of articles or social posts each week.
Setting these performance metrics gives remote employees a target to reach, which guides them and keeps them on track. It also gives you a way to hold them accountable.
So think in terms of output here.
What would you expect an in-house employee to produce? Adjust this if needed, factoring in remote issues team members face, and go from there.
Step 5: Consider Legal Compliance
Finally, but just as important as the rest, you need to consider how you’ll legally protect your company and remote team members.
After all, just because your employees aren’t in-house doesn’t mean they don’t have the same legal protections.
When it comes to hourly remote workers, how do you plan to track their hours? What happens if they go over 40 hours/week?
If you don’t want your remote employees to rack up potential overtime, try setting a schedule with them just like you would with in-house team members.
Then outline this process in your remote work policy.
Another point to consider is confidentiality, especially client confidentiality.
This goes along with protecting your company’s data, but it’s also worth stressing for legal purposes too.
It’s smart to create and add a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to your remote working policy.
You should also make it clear that a remote employee cannot be terminated just because of their remote working status.
These are just a few items you can add to your policy. For more detailed help, you may want to consult your company’s legal team for specifics.
Now You’re Ready to Create Your Working Remotely Policy
Having a strong remote work policy ensures that your company’s expectations are clear, and all employees, whether in-house or virtual, are held to the same standards.
One will also protect your company from legal issues if they ever come up in the future.
Tackle these five steps and you’ll have a well-rounded remote work policy -- and an efficient, productive, and fair remote work environment too.
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