Over the past two years, remote work has become a permanent part of our lives. This shift to remote work wasn't exactly deliberate nor completely feasible. For many businesses, all activities had to be adjusted into a remote working environment on the fly, just so they could keep themselves operational.
Since most work has been online for a while now, all companies need to have a remote work policy at their hands. A remote work policy is an agreement between employees and an organization's management that outlines the do's and don'ts of working from home, necessary guidelines, expectations, and various remote working resources.
A complete and thorough remote work policy will cover:
Remote work has become a necessity in today's time, and when businesses were thrown into the ocean of remote work, many struggled. This is why it's important to navigate this new form of work in detail and learn skills on how to better manage and walk through the world of working from home.
To have a kickass policy, you'll have to break down the whole ordeal into smaller units to easily manage a team of remotely working employees. This includes time, tasks, devices, workstations, and people.
In an office, you know you're at work because you're at work! This is a clear-cut boundary; no one can dispute it. Every time you have a pressing question, you can simply ask someone around. Your coworkers surround you, and it feels like a work environment.
With remote work, not so much.
When you use the same computer in the same room for work and for play, when you have to schedule meetings or wait for people to respond to your message — you realize remote work is unlike anything you've ever experienced before.
That doesn't mean it's a bad kind of work: you get to wear whatever, work at your own pace, meet up with a friend midweek, live anywhere. It's just a different kind of work that needs a different policy to keep all employees on the same page.
Most employees can work effectively outside the office, but for some, it isn't ideal — it highly depends on an employee's role as well. Your workplace policy should revolve around equality and should be inclusive whenever possible. Whatever policies you lay down, they should ensure that everyone can work from home in comfort, no matter their role in the company.
A good remote work policy will also outline all tools and strategies that are and will be necessary for the employees to work productively. You don't want their productivity levels to decrease, but you also want to ensure a comfortable work culture.
Some questions to consider while building your policy are:
This step is crucial. When employees are working away from the office, they need the right tools to work productively. A laptop and a good Wi-Fi connection, though important, aren't enough. Your remote team needs technology to make them feel like they're part of a team and not an afterthought.
Your policy should think about:
Additionally, a VPN access or other security protocol should be considered to securely transfer work files and customer data.
Since in-person contact won't be happening, it's important to create a way for the team members to collaborate and communicate effectively. It ensure productivity, lets them know they're seen and important, and builds better employee relationships.
Consider the types of communication tools you'd need for:
Document and communicate clearly what's expected when remote work is involved. Though most employees are more productive working from home, distractions are possible and common. Set policies that discuss when employees are expected to be available, whether a flexible schedule is an option or more.
Ensure your policy has guidelines built for teams to communicate and socialize outside for impromptu conversations to build better connections. Remote work is great, but humans crave face-to-face conversations.
Don't forget to highlight and outline how remote workers are entitled to legal protection in the same manner as in-office employees. However, remote or flexible work does present some challenges that need dealing with.
Set up a system to report the hours of the hybrid, hourly remote workers. If they're working over 40 hours, they'll qualify for overtime. To avoid overtime costs, you can select specific times employees should or shouldn't work. This ensures that they won't work extra.
Also, discuss training, benefits, promotions that remote working employees are entitled to, just like in-office ones. If you don't treat both teams equally, it could result in discrimination.
You should list anything that employees will get; some companies give stipends for equipment while others provide reimbursement. Have a team-wide poll where employees can let you know what's important to them.
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