The telework landscape is changing at an accelerated speed with more businesses encouraging this flexible work option every day. In fact, 74 percent of professionals expect remote work to become standard, according to a 2020 Growmotely study which surveyed entrepreneurs and other working professionals about the likelihood of remote work continuing post-pandemic. While many businesses understand the benefits of allowing employees to work from home, it is not always easy to implement an effective remote work policy.
What Is A Remote Work Policy?
Remote work policies are essential for businesses that have remote employees or are preparing to offer work-at-home opportunities. This type of policy is essentially an agreement that outlines how and when employees can work from locations outside of the office.
Remote work policies may be temporary or permanent, and may apply to only certain job roles or the workforce as a whole. A standard remote work policy should include who can work from home, the legal rights of a remote employee and the best practices to follow when working from home. It should also include employee expectations, such as number of working hours and requirements for cyber protection.
Creating A Remote Work Policy
There are several things to consider when creating a remote work policy, such as the following:
1. Which Job Roles Can Work From Home?
Not all job roles are suitable for a remote work environment. Determine which roles require an in-office presence and which can be performed at home with some mild changes. For example, an HR professional who normally conducts interviews in person may be able to transition to remote work by using technologies such as live video conferencing to speak to candidates over the internet in real-time. When choosing job roles for remote work, consider if working from home will hurt productivity, how the work will be managed, and what tools and resources will be necessary to work effectively.
2. How Will Remote Workers Collaborate?
Collaboration is critical in many industries, whether it is a simple conversation between coworkers or a team meeting that requires idea-sharing and strategizing. Although no technology can beat a face-to-face connection, businesses can utilize a wide range of software and web sources to effectively communicate and collaborate while working at home. Take all options into consideration, such as email, instant messaging, video conferencing, VoIP, social networks and similar communication tools.
3. Will Employees Receive A Stipend?
When creating a remote work policy, it is important to consider both compensation and benefits. Many businesses choose to provide remote employees with a stipend which they can spend on equipment that will enable them to work from home, such as computer monitors, headsets or other basic office supplies including paper and printer ink.
Some businesses may choose to reimburse employees for any qualifying equipment that they purchase with their own funds. Reimbursement may also be provided for other office-related expenses, such as electricity or internet service.
4. What Work-At-Home Rules Will Be Implemented?
Having clear rules and expectations for employees who work remotely is critical for the long-term success of a business. When developing a remote work policy, include a list of rules that dictate when employees are expected to be available online, if they are allowed to operate on a flexible schedule built around their personal lives and what distractions must be eliminated from their work environment. Businesses should also set policies regarding dress codes, dedicated workspaces and how to address meetings and other modes of communication with vendors, clients or coworkers.
5. Have All Legal Rights Been Defined?
Just as with traditional in-office employees, remote employees have certain rights that they are entitled to even when working from home and protecting these rights can often be difficult with a remote workforce. A remote work policy should discuss ways to comply with these rights, such as establishing a process to report hours for hourly remote workers to ensure that employees that work more than 40 hours per work receive overtime.
Remote workers should also receive the same information and resources as in-office employees, such as training, promotions and benefits. It is critical to avoid situations that could result in a disability-related or discrimination violation.
6. Are There Guidelines For Setting Up A Work Environment?
Many businesses overlook the importance of setting up a healthy and productive work environment for employees at home. Employers are ultimately responsible for their workers’ safety and health, including remote employees.
This means that a remote worker could potentially make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits if they become ill or injured while working from home under certain circumstances. While employers are not expected to inspect employee at-home offices, they should provide clear guidelines on how to set up an ergonomic workstation to avoid injury while working from home.
7. Will Travel Be Required At Any Point Of Employment?
Different job positions may require employees to come into the office on occasion or on a regular basis, such as once a week. A remote work policy should dictate how often employees are expected to meet in-person with business leaders, if at all, and what is expected of them during these visits.
Some businesses may also require remote workers to travel, such as to attend company retreats or other events. If travel is required, include whether travel expenses will be reimbursed. More specific details regarding travel and related expenses may be included in a separate travel policy.
Speak With An Experienced Benefits Consultant
Many companies are making the switch to a fully or partially remote workforce due to the many benefits of telework. Working remotely promotes a better work-life balance for employees and allows employees to have more freedom, both of which can lead to increased productivity and motivation.
Working remotely can also save businesses money by having fewer employees in the office while allowing for more efficient workspace usage for employees that remain in the building. For more information about what to consider when creating a remote work policy, schedule a consultation with an experienced benefits consultant at Business Benefits Group today.