As technology advances and the importance of work-life balance grows for individuals in the workforce, companies are increasingly considering remote work as a viable option for employees. Remote work, done on either a full or part-time basis, helps companies by increasing productivity, decreasing turnover rates, and improving both mental and physical health.
If you are an employer who is considering a remote work program, it’s essential to evaluate certain factors and outline them in a plan before introducing the program to your teams. Below are some of the factors to consider when building your company’s remote work policy.
Outline Eligibility Requirements
To start, clearly define who does and does not qualify for remote work. Performing a thorough analysis of each department and job function will paint a good picture as to who would be able to maintain the same, or higher, level of productivity outside of a traditional office setting.
A useful metric to look for is what percentage of a department’s work is completed on laptops or cell phones. If the group spends the majority of their time working on mobile devices, those employees should qualify for remote work.
On the flip side, if most of the department’s work revolves around face-to-face collaboration or working with on-site equipment, those employees might struggle in a remote work environment. Make sure to state the reasons why someone would be considered ineligible in the remote work policy.
Include a Section on Device Security
Data security is a growing concern for SMBs, especially for remote-based employees. A recent survey from OpenVPN showed that 36% of the companies surveyed had an IT security incident due to unsecured remote workers. 73% of C-Suite and Executive-level IT leaders believe that remote workers pose a higher risk than on-site employees.
Keep these statistics in mind when creating a remote work policy. Outlining company-provided technology and the level of security standards expected from employees will go a long way towards keeping valuable company data safe and secure. Below are a few questions to consider when writing a remote work policy:
- Will employees need a connection to a VPN before accessing sensitive company information?
- Are employees allowed to complete work on personal devices, or will the company provide secure tools for remote employees?
- Should employees be required to encrypt sensitive data before sending it to their colleagues? If so, what is the procedure for doing so?
- Should an employee be required to take cybersecurity training before being granted the ability to work from home?
The points above are just initial considerations when writing a productive remote work policy. An internal IT team might have some additional security measures they would like added to the plan. Contacting an IT professional for additional insights is another crucial step to take to ensure data security during a remote work transition.
Provide Guidelines for Effective Collaboration and Communication
Working out of a home office can be a drastic change for employees who have been in a traditional office environment since the beginning of their careers. One of the most significant differences is moving from face-to-face conversations to digital interactions.
For employees to work from home with confidence, they should be provided tools that keep them connected to their colleagues and the company. Collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams are a fantastic way to maintain employee engagement during a remote work transition.
Another component to include in your remote work policy is expected work schedule and hours. While a flexible work schedule has its benefits, if it becomes too flexible, teams can get uncoordinated. Including a provision in your policy that remote employees should be available during regular work hours could go a long way towards keeping teams working together effectively.
Define How Employee Productivity Will be Measured
A transition to remote work signals the end of attendance being the primary measure of productivity for a company. However, this doesn’t mean that productivity shouldn’t or can’t be tracked; it just will require a shift in thought about productivity.
How productivity is measured will vary by industry, department, and role. A simple inclusion of measuring productivity in a remote work policy would be a line saying it is up to the supervisor’s discretion. This might be enough for a company-wide policy, but if it is the route chosen, consider providing managers and supervisors with guidelines when defining productivity goals, especially in the beginning. Focus on quantitative metrics based on the outcome of work when setting goals, instead of things like work hours and emails sent.
Refer to State and Local Employment Guidelines
There could be specific rules and policies that need outlining in a remote work policy, which may vary by location. Insurance coverage, compensation plans, etc. are all things to consider when writing your policy.
This process can get more cumbersome for companies that operate in multiple states. Before completing any remote work company policy, consult an HR professional in your area to make sure your policy is in line with employment laws and personnel guidelines.
After creating an effective remote work policy that ensures employee security and success, the next step is to put the plan into action. SumnerOne has a team of experts ready to get your remote employees up and running without missing a beat. If you have any questions about the process, we’re happy to help.