Creating a remote work policy is one of the most important tasks when integrating remote work into your company. But although the technology has been around for some time, not all businesses are ready to make this shift.
However, the recent Covid-19 pandemic forced businesses worldwide to immediately cater to remote work, leading to rushed and, sometimes, ineffective policies.
In this economic climate, you either adapt or fall to the wayside. So, if you want to create a polished and balanced remote work policy, this article is for you.
What is a Remote Work Policy?
A remote work policy is an employer-employee agreement that allows employees to accomplish their work outside the company office.
Also called work from home (WFH) or telecommuting policy, it typically dictates:
- Which positions can be done remotely
- How remote work should be accomplished
- How the productivity of employees will be measured
- What support system they can count on
- What legal rights they have as remote employees
Allowing remote work offers several notable benefits to employers. The first and most situationally relevant one, of course, is that the company can still continue its regular operations amidst the pandemic.
In addition to that, remote work also leads to better a work/life balance and less burnout, which is a huge plus to employees. In fact, a report from Buffer in 2020 showed that 97% of remote workers would recommend it to others.
Here are other benefits to allowing employees to shift to a work-from-home setup:
- Saves operational costs. The costs of office space rental, upkeep and maintenance, electricity and water, and other similar expenses will be dramatically reduced if there are fewer people in the office.
- Increases productivity. Many employees enjoy the freedom that remote work provides. This results in a more refreshed and productive workforce.
- Opens up hiring possibilities. By allowing remote workers in your company, your hiring choices no longer have to be limited by geographic location.
- Creates a more diverse workplace. Now that hiring from different regions and even countries is possible, it’s easier to intentionally create a more inclusive and diverse workspace.
- Minimises pollution and energy consumption. Commuting to and from work produces a high amount of pollution, while a full office tends to consume a lot of energy. Minimising both is good for the environment on the whole.
9 Steps to Create a Balanced Remote Work Policy
If you’re determined to create a balanced remote work policy for your business this 2022, follow the steps below.
1. Determine who’s eligible for the policy
Not all the jobs in your office are suitable for remote work. Jobs that explicitly require field presence (like on-site engineers, armed forces, medical care providers, retail, manufacturing, etc.) can’t easily transition to the WFH scheme, if at all.
Additionally, not all the workers in your company are also capable of working from home. Some have home environments that are not conducive to working, while others require constant supervision.
Simply put, not everyone is cut out to be a remote worker.
Working from home requires several basic traits, and even then, the presence of these traits doesn’t necessarily result in success.
Here are some characteristics you should look out for when choosing who can switch to remote work in your company.
- Independence. Remote workers should be able to work with minimal supervision, understand complex instructions, and know when and how to ask important questions.
- Communication. They need to have excellent communication skills with their teammates, peers, and managers.
- Time management. They should be able to complete the same amount of work they do in the office. Productive employees are organised, motivated, and can adhere to work deadlines.
2. Include the purpose and scope
When implementing a remote work policy, the first thing you have to ensure is that your employees are on-board.
If they don’t understand why certain things are being done, it may feel to them like a loss of autonomy. The negative sentiments this creates can easily create a dysfunctional and inefficient system.
To stop this from happening, you have to clearly state from the get-go the purpose and scope of your remote work policy.
- Purpose. Even if you don’t think it bears repeating, you should clearly communicate your reason for implementing a remote work policy. Whether it’s a concern for employee health, compliance with public safety standards, or even just for increasing productivity, employees should know the ultimate goal of such a significant undertaking.
- Scope. Communicate which roles will be transitioned to remote work, their specific job requirements, limits to the policy, and other relevant details.
3. Set clear rules about the remote work setup
To have a successful remote work policy, you need to have a clear and rigorous set of rules for its implementation. Your employees need to know that although they’re not in the office, the company can still enforce behavioural codes and company policies.
Standard company rules apply to employees in a WFH setup. This includes the following guidelines.
- Code of conduct
- Code of ethics
- Anti-harassment policies
- Employee handbook
- Confidentiality agreement
- Employment benefits (insurance, sick leave, vacation times, work hours, etc.)
This way, employees know what rules to follow even when away from the office.
4. Outline all legal considerations
Shifting to remote work involves complex legal changes in your capacity as an employer. It would be best for you to understand all these changes in your legal obligations.
Even if they work for a UK business with finances handled through a UK bank, their home countries will have different laws regarding taxation. Things like social security and legal requirements will also vary.
As an employer, you need to think about payroll withholding obligations, foreign corporation tax, and many more.
5. Establish remote work expectations
It's not a new concept, but remote work only started becoming mainstream in the last few years or so. Therefore, although your employees may already have some idea about remote work, most of them won’t know what to expect.
Often, this level of uncertainty is difficult to solve and can lead to inefficiencies in your implementation.
To minimise this, you need to establish expectations for remote work. Here are some aspects you need to discuss:
- Work hours. Set clear guidelines on what times of the day you expect your employees to be available.
- Responsiveness. To make your system more efficient, you should also set expectations on how soon they need to reply to your messages.
- Communication tools. Your employees must have a consistent level of mastery over the most commonly-used set of communication tools that your company uses.
6. Create collaboration schedules
As convenient as remote work is, some tasks need the input of multiple different people to accomplish. Additionally, even if they’re in the comfort of their own homes, remote employees still need to feel that they are part of a team.
Luckily, these two things are easily achievable.
Through various collaboration platforms and project management tools, you can now create collaboration schedules easily. Collaboration schedules standardise the amount and duration of cooperative work with teammates.
For one, teammates can be on the same page when working on a large and complex project since they already have a pre-blocked schedule on their calendar.
More than that, it’s also easier to facilitate collaborative discussion between employees to improve rapport.
7. Provide the necessary tools and software
When implementing a remote work policy, it’s essential to talk about the details necessary to complete the job.
Obviously, employees have a safe place to work in the office and all the office equipment and supplies they could possibly need. Remote employees may not have all of these from the get-go, so it’s up to you as the employer to provide the right tools and software that they need to carry out the job successfully.
Remember, some of your files and apps will need to be updated to better facilitate online collaboration. Necessary tools can include a subscription to conferencing apps, project management platforms, and time tracking software.
In addition, consider the tools you’ll need to support remote hiring, including distribution in global job boards and video interviewing. With SeeMeHired, you can support your entire remote hiring program with one easy-to-use software. Learn more in a free demo.
8. Prepare avenues for tech support
Not everyone in your office is going to be great at technology. And even in the rare case that they are, it’s inevitable that there will be technical problems that they don’t have the time or know-how to solve themselves.
This can significantly reduce an employee’s productivity. To stop this from happening, you need to have systems for tech support in place.
It doesn’t matter if you have an in-house staff for tech support or you’re outsourcing tech support to a third party – the important thing is that your employees know that they can rely on your company in case they encounter tech issues while working remotely.
9. Detail pay structures and compensation
Remote employees may have questions about changes in their salaries, compensation, and benefits. This is entirely normal, seeing as their entire mode of work is being shifted.
For your part, you need to clearly outline the pay structures and compensation, especially if they’ve been affected by the new remote work policy.
If certain aspects of their compensation have been affected by the shift (commuting allowances, insurance, etc.), you need to state the reason behind the change clearly.
You also need to detail avenues for asking questions or raising concerns about this new payment structure. Include the contact details of an HR representative as well as the steps to filing a complaint.
Creating a Balanced Remote Work Policy in 2022
2022 marks the third year that the world has been battling the Covid-19 pandemic. While this reality is troubling and challenging, we need to adjust to the present if we ever want hope for the future.
Creating a balanced remote work policy is one of the ways you can ensure a bright future for your company. With this well-rounded policy created for your employees, you can enjoy a smooth, painless, and productive transition.