Although many aspects of the “new normal” brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have fallen by the wayside, remote work continues to gain traction. Research from McKinsey shows that about 35% of workers have the opportunity to work from home full-time, and 87% say they appreciate the chance to work from home.
Allowing your team the flexibility to work remotely—or even building your business with the intention of recruiting talent from around the world—offers many benefits to your company. A successful remote work program requires organization and structure, though. Without a solid foundation, you’ll struggle to keep your team working toward the same goals and working as efficiently as possible.
A clear, concise, and comprehensive remote work policy can keep this from happening and support a successful company. Outlining the specific policies, procedures, and expectations for your remote workers will prevent confusion and ensure a productive and collaborative environment.
Does every company need a remote work policy?
If you allow employees to work remotely—or plan to implement a remote work program—you need a remote work policy. Not only does the document clarify aspects of your program for employees, but it can also serve as a safety net that protects work-life balance and company productivity.
Remote work policies should clarify your expectations and rules for employees when they aren’t working in the office. The policy doesn’t have to be exhaustive or excessively controlling—after all, flexibility is one of the benefits of remote work. Rather, the policy should serve as a guidepost that ensures order and consistency, whether employees work down the street or across the world.
Creating a remote work policy also provides guidance and helps ensure legal protection in the event of a dispute or disciplinary proceedings for an underperforming worker.
What does a remote work policy need to include?
An effective, comprehensive remote work policy allows employees to focus on their work instead of wondering about the questions and concerns that can come up when they aren’t in the office. Putting clear and fair policies in place ensures that everyone is on the same page, supporting productivity and helping people reach their goals.
1. Expectations for working hours
Can your team set their own hours, or do you expect them to work a set schedule? If employees work hourly, establish a clear method and procedure for clocking in and out.
If you have hybrid employees, set specific expectations for communicating when they plan to be in the office and whether there are any days when it would be required.
2. Expectations for communication
How often do remote employees need to check in with each other or with their manager? What tools should they be using to communicate with their teammates and clients? Determine when it’s most appropriate to use email, chat platforms, and video conferencing to keep everyone in the communication loop.
3. Expectations for technology
Establish which tools and technology employees can use and what it means for them to use those tools responsibly. Outline the security expectations and rules, like using VPNs and authenticator apps, and protocols for accessing and sharing vital information.
Specifically, detail the equipment you require remote employees to have and your policies and procedures for providing that equipment. Make sure there are also guidelines for equipment returns if an employee needs an item replaced or leaves the company.
4. Policies regarding breaks and time off
Most attendance policies are likely to be the same, whether a worker is remote or on-site, like those pertaining to taking designated meal breaks and attending meetings. Even PTO and medical leave requests are handled the same way. But there are some important differences.
Remote employees may opt to work when they are ill, but they need to be aware of expectations regarding productivity and preparedness. Make sure there are clear guidelines for requesting sick days and early dismissals to accommodate illness.
5. Details about salary and reimbursements
If salaries require adjustment due to an employee’s physical work location, the remote policy should outline how that will be handled. The policy should also detail the rules and procedures regarding reimbursements. For example, if employees need to travel to the office for in-person meetings or to attend company retreats, outline the expense reimbursement process in the policy.
6. Safety and security rules
Although employers are not responsible for employees’ home working environments, it may still be possible for individuals to make worker’s compensation claims for work-related injuries at home. Your remote work policy should establish guidelines for a safe work environment, so consider providing a safety checklist and instructions for setting up an ergonomic workstation.
Data security is also a crucial category. Do your remote employees need to take any specific measures to protect their files and workspaces? Are there any tasks that cannot be performed remotely due to security concerns or regulations? For example, certain financial, legal, and human resources tasks need to be done on-site because they involve highly sensitive information or access to tools with IP address restrictions.
Finally, the remote work policy needs to outline the consequences of non-compliance. Outline how you will handle violations, such as a process for issuing verbal warnings, escalating to written warnings, and implementing performance improvement plans.
Keep in mind that your company may need to expand on or modify these ideas to ensure that your remote work policy meets the unique needs and circumstances of your company.
What about policies for workers in different time zones?
If you hire international workers, you may have additional considerations when creating a remote work policy. There probably won’t be many significant differences, but you may need to address concerns about working hours, time off, payments, or communication expectations. For example, it may be challenging for an employee in a different time zone to check in or attend a stand-up at a specific time, so the policy needs to account for that.
Oyster’s global employment platform makes it easy for companies to comply with international regulations. With experience hiring and managing workers from 180+ countries worldwide, we can ensure that all your policies comply with applicable rules.
Giving your employees the opportunity to work remotely can improve their satisfaction, productivity, and results. Creating a remote work policy makes managing the program easier for leadership. Use our guide to create a comprehensive policy and prevent the issues that might arise.
Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, engage, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.
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