Companies that allow remote work can reap many benefits. Their workers tend to be happier and more productive. Retention rates are higher and it gives employers more opportunity to recruit from a wider talent pool.
However, a lot of businesses still feel reluctant about allowing their employees to telecommute. Some are prone to believing the common misconceptions about remote work such as poor communication, lack of accountability and decreased employee engagement.
Granted all of these issues can be mitigated by creating a comprehensive and viable remote work policy. Before your organization takes that plunge, be sure to consider and formalize the following seven clauses for your remote work initiative.
1. Create clearly defined cybersecurity practices for remote workers
Simply put, remote work does create new security risks; 86% of C-level executives agree that telecommuting creates a higher risks of a data breach.
But just as it is with BYOD policies, most of these risks and concerns can be mitigated with the right policy in place. Specifically, you should create clear protocols for accessing, changing or transmitting sensitive documents. Address how and when the public Wi-Fi connection can or cannot be used. Additionally, provide employees with a clear protocol to follow if they believe any information has been compromised.
Your company policy can also dictate the types of antivirus software and other items that are to be installed on each worker’s computers.
2. Be clear about which positions are eligible
The idea of remote work is pretty popular. Unfortunately, it’s not a good fit for every position. You’ll need to establish which roles in your company will be open to remote workers and which will not. If you don’t do this, there’s a danger that your decisions to approve requests to work from home will be seen as arbitrary. A good policy can help you avoid any appearance of favoritism.
3. Establish communications standards and schedule
Create a policy that clearly states when remote workers are to be available to receive and respond to communications. If there are to be regular meetings, establish when, where and how those are going to take place. You may also need to train workers on this on a one-time basis or on an ongoing, progressive basis using a suitable small business learning management system.
Finally, you may need to establish a work schedule your remote workers must adhere to. This can be very strictly defined (e.g. 9 – 5 West Coast Time). You can also be quite flexible (e.g. Choose your availability 3 days a week between 7 – 6 West Coast Time), with a large portion of the schedule left up to the worker.
4. Set clear expectations and KPIs
Remote workers should be expected to meet the same deadlines and performance requirements as any other member of the team. However, since you may not be able to accurately supervise the number of hours worked, you may need to establish other metrics. For example, a remote customer service worker could be asked to resolve a specified number of calls within a shift.
5. Establish that workers will not be laid off or terminated based on remote work status
This policy is to ensure that managers support remote work policies. Those that are hesitant about the value of remote work may judge remote staff more harshly than in-office workers. If they are faced with cutting staff for any reason, they may use this as a reason to cull remote workers first. Support your remote staff by preventing this with good policy.
6. Set standards and policies for equipment
Will workers be expected to provide their own equipment, or will your company supply these items? What about software? Be clear in your policy documents about this. If nothing else, you may wish to establish that your IT people be able to access equipment to install and update antivirus software.
7. Workspace standards are important
Keep in mind that as an employer you are obligated to ensure that your employees work in a safe environment. This is true, even when they work remotely. Establish a remote work policy that employees workplaces must be safe and free from hazards. Some places of employment even establish that they be able to visit employee workspaces as long as they give reasonable notice.
In the case of remote workers who are contractors or freelancers, this policy may not apply. However, it can be a good idea to establish that any remote workers will work from locations where they are able to do their jobs reliably. This gives remote workers the freedom to do things like travel while holding them accountable for being able to execute their duties.
By allowing remote work, you will make your company even more desirable to top talent globally. To ensure that you retain the same standards of work quality and productivity, be sure to implement a remote work policy that includes the clauses listed above.