Remote work was always going to be a big part of our future. Now that it has accelerated, it is time to have a formal policy in place to ensure businesses and employees are successful. Managing a remote workforce is different from managing an office. There are many aspects to working remotely and when creating your own policy, you need to make appropriate decisions based on your own company.
Your company policy should be specific about who can work from home, how they should perform their work, what is expected of them, how their work will be evaluated, how their work practices will be monitored, what support is available to them from your company, what company benefits are available to remote employees, and their legal rights.
Of course, there can be more or less on that list as your company and employee needs dictate. Communicate with your remote employees and listen to their input, as well as investigate how other similar companies are crafting their remote work policies. This link is a helpful starting point. Below are more tips for building your remote work policy.
How will you communicate with your remote workforce and at what level? There must be set protocols in place for employees and managers to follow, as well as guidelines for how different levels of communication are to be utilized. Here are some suggestions:
- Establish a channel for communication (Slack, Asana, Basecamp, Teams, etc.) and provide training in its use.
- Establish expectations for responsiveness during work hours.
- Insist that cameras be used during communications to increase engagement and relationship-building among the team members and management.
- Ensure that team members understand how tasks are assigned and work is to be submitted, as well as how and to whom they can submit questions.
- Establish check-in procedures and timeframes.
Establish guidelines for scheduling work, meetings, breaks, and formal working times. Unless your remote workforce has the flexibility to work at any time, establish formal working hours when they are expected to be available and at work. This can help them separate work from personal time, since both are being carried out in the same environment.
- Schedule working hours and be aware of different time zones.
- Insist that employees sign out when work hours are over and take time away from work to recharge and handle personal concerns.
- Coordinate some scheduled breaks online with the team for building relationships and team engagement.
Accountability is important for remote workers just as it is with in-office employees. Without it, productivity will decline and you will lose control quickly. Think through what you need from your remote workforce and establish guidelines to facilitate those results.
- Establish rules and penalties for missed days, tardiness, and other work violations.
- Establish and enforce a dress code. Pajamas and exercise clothing should be strictly prohibited. A casual atmosphere contributes to casual attitudes toward work. This is another good reason to insist that cameras be used for all communications.
- Track time in increments so every employee logs the proper amount of time each day.
- Set long-term goals with short-term milestones that must be met on a timed schedule.
- Clearly outline productivity standards and how they will be measured for performance evaluations.
You should establish protocols for the use of all IT for company business, just as you would for in-office employees. Remote workers may tend to become lax in their own homes, so regularly remind them of the IT guidelines and their importance.
- Educate remote workers on IT security rules and protocols for working remotely.
- Provide advice on how to establish a secure work environment in the home.
- Discuss requirements like VPN or other ethernet needs. For example, MHO Metro Ethernet Service provides a simple, cost-effective way to connect Local Area Network (LAN) to LAN between two or more business locations, or to an offsite location.
- Provide and train remote employees on any applications needed for work tasks.
Certain things should be provided by the company for remote workers to enable them to work away from the company’s physical location. You should be specific about what your company does and does not provide, as well as offering options for some needs.
- Be clear about what is provided by your company: Computers, chairs, cellphone, network access, high-speed Internet.
- Offer a dollar amount to set up a home office.
- Be clear about what is covered by the company’s insurance and what should be covered by the employee’s insurance.
- Offer a monthly stipend for ongoing office expenses.
Other company policies should be reviewed and revised as necessary to apply to remote workers. These policies should be reviewed and agreed to by all parties as part of the remote work agreement between the company and employees. Below are some templates for important company policies that you can use as a starting point.
- Attendance Policy
- Cell Phone Policy
- Code of Ethics
- Confidentiality Agreement
- Employee Handbook
- Professional Code of Conduct
- Sexual Harassment Policy
- Sick Leave
Other particulars may be necessary for your company. You should always be sure that your remote employees feel safe and comfortable working for you in a remote capacity, and not as second-class workers. They should enjoy the same benefits and opportunities as all other employees.
Does your company need help setting up a VPN or getting remote working technologies up and running? MHO can help! Call us at (877) WANT MHO with your questions or needs.