Remote working has been one of the hottest topics among organizations for a very long time. However, the Coronavirus outbreak has made remote working popular like never before.
While the idea of switching to remote work sounds interesting, in reality, it’s easier said than done, especially for large organizations. Among many challenges that organizations need to tackle while transitioning to remote work is the process of creating remote work policies.
Without having an effective remote or work from home policy, it becomes difficult for organizations to manage their remote teams. Also, the remote workers struggle to coordinate with managers and the chances of conflicts become greater if the remote work policy fails to address all the important aspects of remote working.
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While we have many things to share with you that can help you switch to remote work, we will be mainly focusing on the aspects of remote work policies in this article.
Table of Contents
- What Does Working Remotely Mean?
- Remote Work is the Future
- Common Concerns While Transitioning to Remote Work
- What is a Remote Work Policy and Why it is of Paramount Importance for Organizations?
- Most Important Points to Include in a Remote Work Policy
- 1. Remote work conditions
- 2. Working hours and days
- 3. Leave of absence policy
- 4. Hardware and equipment
- 5. Confidentiality of business information and sensitive data
- 6. Tools authorized for use
- 7. Assessing the performance of employees
- 8. Reimbursable expenses, compensation, and benefits
- 9. Digital contract
- How to Evaluate the Effectiveness of a Remote Work Policy?
What Does Working Remotely Mean?
Remote working allows employees to work for an organization in an environment other than the traditional office environment. While many of you might be using work-from-home and remote working interchangeably, there’s a little difference between the two terms.
Work-from-home simply means that your workspace is present within your home. Whereas, remote work adds more to work-from-home by including workplaces such as cafes and coworking spaces.
Remote Work is the Future
The trend of working remotely has increased rapidly in recent years and there are statistics backing this fact. However, the coronavirus outbreak has accelerated the rate at which organizations are switching to remote work.
Even the organizations that have never thought of employing remote teams are now welcoming the idea of remote working.
The rapid shift to remote work happening right now clearly indicates that remote work is the future of organizations. Also, organizations need to adopt remote working today to survive and be ready to tackle similar situations in the future.
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Common Concerns While Transitioning to Remote Work
Working remotely surely sounds interesting, but implementing remote work is an enduring task, especially for managers and business owners. Things are bound to get even more complicated when all or most members of a team need to make a transition to remote work.
Once your organization decides to make remote working a part of its framework, you will find certain questions popping into your head such as:
Who can work remotely?
Will it be possible to work from anywhere in the world?
How remote workers will collaborate with one another in real-time?
How to measure the productivity of each remote worker?
…And so on.
What a remote work policy does is that it keeps both employers and employees on the same page when remote work takes place. Moreover, this policy also acts as a remote work agreement between employer and employee.
As a manager having experience of handling remote teams for my organization, I have to tell you that every organization that has remote workers must develop a good remote work policy.
Without a remote work policy, it becomes hard to manage a remote team in the long run.
Also, I want to make it clear that reproducing policies of other organizations is not recommended because every organization’s way of working is different. Thus, it is always preferable to create a remote work policy while keeping in mind all the requirements of your organization.
What is a Remote Work Policy and Why it is of Paramount Importance for Organizations?
Just like any other business policy, a remote work policy is a combination of several guidelines. However, this policy is of special importance for individuals and teams working remotely for an organization.
The guidelines mentioned in a remote work policy shed light on the expectations of an organization from its remote workers such as working hours, the confidentiality of business data, etc.
Additionally, a remote work policy allows employees to know all the dos and don’ts that they need to follow as a remote worker.
From an organization’s point of view, creating an effective remote policy is crucial to make sure minimal conflicts arise between remote workers and the management.
Most Important Points to Include in a Remote Work Policy
An effective work from home or remote work policy makes remote work frictionless for both employees and business owners.
Remote work policies help employees to work productively, collaborate with other remote members of the team, and achieve better peace of mind while working from home.
Moreover, remote team management becomes easier and more effective for managers as team members will already know how to conduct themselves.
Now, you might be thinking of all the important points that you need to highlight in your remote work policy.
So, let’s not waste any more time and discuss those points straight away that you need to consider while drafting a remote work policy from scratch:
1. Remote work conditions
It is important to specify all the conditions that make an employee eligible for remote work. Your organization may allow certain departments or roles to operate remotely while restricting others.
The conditions to work remotely may depend on factors such as the location of the employee, medical emergencies, etc.
For instance, some organizations only allow employees to work remotely if they are located far away from the office and daily commuting is not possible. Whereas, other organizations may allow employees to work remotely without taking into consideration the location of their residence.
2. Working hours and days
A remote work policy should clearly mention whether employees can work remotely on a full-time basis or for a certain number of days in a month.
Moreover, it is important to specify the working hours for remote workers. Also, mention if employees can only work in the standard office hours or if it’s possible to work in different shifts.
If your team has members working across different time zones, then you need to carefully consider if an overlap between their working hours and office hours is required. You need to decide the working hours in such a way that there’s no communication gap among the team members.
3. Leave of absence policy
Yes, you heard it right. Just like your in-office employees, you need to establish leave rules for remote workers too.
The leave of absence policy lets employees know how they can avail a leave and conditions that allow sanctioning of multi-day leave. Moreover, details like a number of monthly or yearly paid leaves, maximum allowed leaves per year, maternity leave, etc. should also be there in the policy.
It is completely your choice whether you want a common policy for both in-office and remote workers or distinct ones.
4. Hardware and equipment
Hardware is the most basic requirement for your remote workers to perform their jobs. So, you need to identify all the gadgets that they will need to work such as laptops, webcams, storage devices, phones, etc.
You need to decide whether you will be providing partial or all the required devices and equipment to remote employees or will they have to arrange the hardware by themselves.
Mention all the details related to the delivery and installation of hardware that your organization will provide to remote workers. Also, don’t forget to include the guidelines that employees should adhere to while using their own hardware and equipment.
5. Confidentiality of business information and sensitive data
The confidentiality and security of your business’s data are of the utmost importance. So, you need to state clear guidelines for how remote employees need to handle the sensitive data of the business.
A traditional office has several security measures such as the use of secure networks, centralized computer networks, etc. to ensure the safety and confidentiality of data.
However, it is not possible to use such measures for remote employees. Thus, you need to define rules that guide remote workers to prevent loss or exposure of important information related to your business.
Your organization may expect from all the remote workers to use only some specific tools and software. If there are such conditions regarding the usage of tools, you need to highlight them in the remote work policy.
The tools and software that your remote team may need include IDEs, messaging apps, time tracking apps, task management apps, project management software, etc.
You need to specify whether the remote workers have the flexibility to choose tools and software of their choice or they only need to use tools approved by your organization.
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7. Assessing the performance of employees
It is important to assess the performance of remote workers to award them with fair salary increments and promotions.
Thus, you need to highlight the metrics for evaluating the performance of remote workers in your remote/work from home policy. This will maintain good transparency between you and your remote workers.
You can use all-in-one project management software like ProofHub to keep a track of both the progress of projects and the productivity of individual team members of your remote team.
8. Reimbursable expenses, compensation, and benefits
List all the expenses that your organization will reimburse to the remote workers. Also, you need to put down all the compensations and benefits like health insurance, commissions, overtime pay, etc. in the policy.
If your remote workers are from different countries then you need to carefully consider the national laws regarding compensations and benefits of each country.
9. Digital contract
While it will be nearly impossible for remote workers located far away from your organization’s headquarters to visit for the paperwork, it’s better to set up digital contracts along with digital signatures for authentication purposes.
The contract should outline all the rules and regulations along with the conditions of working remotely for your organization. Furthermore, you should include work from home procedure to the contract, so that there are no misunderstandings between you and your remote employees.
It is better to create separate contracts for full-time remote employees and the in-office employees who are temporarily shifting to work from home.
How to Evaluate the Effectiveness of a Remote Work Policy?
This is a really good question that managers and business owners come across when employing remote teams.
Well, it goes without saying that the effectiveness of a policy depends upon the results that it produces.
Remote work policies that help remote teams to work productively with minimal disputes are considered as successful.
In case your policy fails to perform well, you have to find out the reasons for the low performance of your remote employees.
One good way to evaluate the performance of remote employees is to use project management software like ProofHub.
Several reputed organizations around the world trust ProofHub for managing their remote teams. ProofHub allows you and your remote teams to:
- Communicate using an in-built chat interface
- Collaborate on design & documents by using proofing feature
- Manage tasks, set deadlines, and organize work easily in calendar view
- Evaluate the productivity of team members using Gantt charts and performance reports
- Create multiple discussion topics to talk about different project matters
With ProofHub you will get all the tools that you will get other project management software like Asana and Wrike offers. However, the most important thing that allows ProofHub to stand out from rest is that it does not charge per user.
For organizations that are either shifting to work from home or planning to employ remote workers in their teams, they need to develop remote work policies or work from home policies. The prime importance of a remote work policy lies in the fact that it acts as a guide for both managers and remote employees to coordinate and work in a productive manner.
However, while drafting a remote work policy, you need to make sure that it covers every important aspect of remote working. This will help minimize conflicts and improve the productivity of employees working remotely.