How to ace your remote working policy

A recent PwC survey highlighted that 84% of employees feel able to perform their role just as effectively when working remotely as they could in the office. What’s more, 86% of UK CEOs believe the shift towards remote collaboration will continue.

Mitigating security risks and clarifying employee support are just two reasons why your business needs a remote working policy.

Your remote working policy may have been bundled together and not reviewed since the pandemic hit. Still, when outlining such important subjects, your policy must be in tip-top condition – to protect your business and your employees.

Some policies may differ from business to business, but there are a few common areas that deserve specific attention:

 

1. The 3 Ws – Who, Where, When

Be very clear about which employees are eligible for remote work. Different roles have different responsibilities that may or may not be suitable to fulfil remotely.

You may want to break it down by title, location, or length of service.

Remote working can also mean anything to anyone. Are you okay with employees working from a café? Or maybe a shared co-working space? Make it clear in your policy whether they should be working purely from home or have free rein.

If you haven’t already, send out a remote working survey to see how engaged employees are. Do they like working from home or do they prefer the office? Once you know, it’s best practice to outline in the policy how often they can work from home.

 

2. Establish working hours

State whether there are certain hours everyone should be online and available for collaboration. Some common ways to do this include:

  • Set a work schedule: Employees are expected to work set hours each week, such as 9am until 5pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Core work hours: Set hours each week when you expect all employees to be available for collaboration. For instance, 10am-3pm.
  • Fully flexible schedule: Employees can work any time that best suits their needs.

If you have hourly employees working remotely, be specific about when overtime is allowed.

 

3. Whose providing office essentials?

Remote employees need to be aware of who is paying to kit out their home office. For some, this could be a hefty expense, so make sure everyone knows whether you’ll be reimbursing them or sending them office gear straight from the business’ pocket.

Office items to consider:

  • Desk, chair, laptop, monitor, and accessories
  • Phones and phone lines
  • Utilities, like internet or electricity
  • Co-working space

Let your team know upfront – nobody likes an unexpected bill!

 

4. Expectations for external meetings

“You’re on mute” was the most used line of 2020, but it seems most are still suffering from technical difficulties, even a whole year on.

If your remote employees have meetings with external parties, it’s important they know how to maintain a good impression – even through Zoom!

Set expectations for virtual meetings, and consider the following:

  • Should employees blur the background? What about a company-wide background with a logo?
  • Must all employees wear a headset to ensure optimal sound quality?
  • Is it okay for employees to dress smart up-top and comfy on the bottom?
  • Check background lighting – make sure employees are visible and not silhouetted by the sun

 

5. Define childcare support

First and foremost, you hired employees because they’re great at their job, and more often than not, trustworthy people.

Make it clear that family comes first, and you’re there to support them. Not every employee can afford after-school clubs, so clarify your stance on the occasional waving child in the background.

Flexi-working and providing the right tech is key here. If parents and carers know they can work around their childcare and have tools like Teams and Sapling to stay connected with their employer, they’ll know they’re supported.

 

6. Mitigate security risks

People working remotely face different cyber risks from those working on-site. For example, there’s the issue of shoulder surfing and insecure networks in public spaces.

Each employee should receive relevant training to ensure company data is secure. Remind employees to use secure passwords and to log off when they’re away from their devices. You may also want employees to install a remote-wipe solution to erase hard drives in the event of equipment theft.

 

Working remotely is still considered new to many of us and will evolve and grow in time.

Communication will be key in working out exactly what your policy covers. Listen to employees with open forums and pulse surveys to make sure that you are supporting your employees where they need it most.

An honest and transparent relationship with employees goes a long way. Setting expectations and boundaries will set up your whole company for success!

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