Remote work will increase significantly over the next ten years — this is according to a recent report by Upwork. The report found that 63% of companies currently have remote workers. However, the majority of companies do not have a remote work policy.
It’s not surprising that there are few policies in place to handle remote work situations. Castanon Martinez stated that informal or unspoken policies are more common. There is a learning curve organizations are experiencing in creating safety protocols and policies.
The Human Resource Angle
Part of the problem lies with the Human Resource department that is understaffed. This often leads to a lack of confidence on their part. In providing hard copy policies to employees. Today it’s increasingly difficult to find employees to interview. Let alone hire.
Many prospective employees don’t want the hassle of hard and fast rules. They may feel that this will restrict creativity. They may be unable to “think outside the box.” This kind of perceived flexibility is essential to generation “Z.”
Guidelines in Every Good Remote Working Policy
Unspoken rules can confuse company workers. Employees need to be clear about their expectations. Remote work policies can cause a disconnect between employees and their supervisors, which can be unproductive and ineffective. It is essential for company leadership to determine, beforehand, how they will keep communication open between and company and these individuals.
These are guidelines that will help you start your remote work policy.
Deciding on remote positions of the staff must be a priority. Carol Rozwell, Gartner analyst, said companies can determine which positions are eligible to work remotely by analyzing their work processes and operating models.
As an example, she used her own experience: “If you’re on the phone right now, it doesn’t really matter from where I’m calling, doesn’t even matter where you called me.”
Often remote work is merely an issue of control where leadership has a hard time trusting the employee to get their work done. But unquestionably, these issues will be better sorted out earlier than later — because remote workers will be here whether we like it or not.
The policy should outline the availability expectations for remote work if a company allows it. Castanon-Martinez said that policy should outline whether a company has a general 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. work schedule or allows employees to choose their own hours.
Often, the ability to choose one’s hours keeps workers coming into the office. You’ll want to make sure individual hours are set, reported beforehand, and adhered to.
Employees will be more productive if their schedules are clear from the beginning. And, yes, unfair working conditions can arise. There should be less worry about unfair working conditions and more attention paid to the productivity output of the worker.
3. Measurements of productivity
Productivity measurement is key to remote work policies. There are many ways to measure productivity, including time spent on the project and the resolution of cases. Companies must decide how to assess their employees. No one will be concerned about productivity if expectations are left out.
Rozwell stated that it is important to measure the outcomes of work and not just how many hours worked.
Remote tech workers require the right tools. Companies must clearly state the equipment they will provide to remote workers. The business must specify whether they expect their employees to supply their own computers.
Remember to name the other equipment that employers might expect their employees to include with reference works.
What equipment do you want to require?
Do you want to require GPS? High-definition video equipment could be required. Conversely, employees can expect to be provided with free in-house training for career advancement.
Be aware your employee will still ask, “my house or yours.” And you may wish to forgo these issues and just see how the workers work. Trust in the employee to do the right thing and work enough hours will usually come back to you in better work.
5. Tech support
Companies should provide remote support for equipment. Nearly all large companies offer remote support for the technology. They often have poor on-site tech support. Even remote tech employees will require help with technical problems. The needs of your business will help the organization to create a site-specific plan.
Organizations detailing expectations about communication fosters healthy relationships between supervisors and employees. Consider asking for input for the guidelines.
6. Rightful termination
Most company policies address rightful termination. Rozwell stressed its importance in a remote work policy. Employers must clearly state that they will not terminate employees for working remotely. Rozwell stated that remote work is a common way for managers to feel uncomfortable.
But, think about the possibility that remote work may be exactly what the company needs and get used to it.
Open two-way communication is key here.
7. Physical environment
It is a good idea to include a preference for the environment that an employee works uses in a policy. It may be prudent to require that employees have approved the physical environment for working remotely.
Rozwell stated that it is a safety and health issue. If you look at an office environment, you can assume that it is safe and that there is a system in place to detect fires or break-ins. It’s a safe work environment.
Though the business isn’t responsible for the home environment of a remote worker — you may wish to address the idea of setting a designated area that is only for work.
But clearly understand that if your worker decides to sit on the couch to work and they get a backache — that’s on them, not you. One line in the policy could even state this fact.
Security breaches are a major problem for remote work. Large companies have secure networks in place. Employees need to avoid working in public areas. The policy should clearly state that public Wi-Fi use is a serious breach of company policy. But teaching about safety and options is the best way to avert security issues, such as VPNs.
9. Confidentiality of the client
Security and confidentiality of clients must be addressed in a policy. A protected work environment makes it easier to keep confidential information private.
Rozwell said that if you have a client calling you in a cafe, it is manditory to ensure you don’t discuss or share sensitive information. Again, this is usually a matter of education — not environment. Suggest the employee go sit in their vehicle.
Most employee’s will do pretty much anything you ask and work harder just for the chance to work from home.
Trust, trust, trust — I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!