Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, millions of workers have decided to work remotely. Regular work-at-home has increased by 173% since 2005. Around 88% of companies have encouraged or required employees to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around one in two people don’t want to return to a job if it doesn’t include remote work.
That’s because remote work provides freedom to employees, a healthy work-life balance, and the chance to spend extra time with the family. Nonetheless, companies must have remote work policies to ensure excellent performance, teamwork, and discipline.
What Are Remote Work Policies?
A remote working policy is a permanent or temporary agreement between a company and its employees to work from a non-office location. The policy will outline specific details between the company and the employee, which may include:
- The number of days working remotely
- The type of work
- The legal rights of the employees
- The best practices to follow, such as communication, working hours, wellbeing, and cybersecurity.
Why Should Companies Think About Creating A Remote Work Policy?
Everyone in your team must know the rules. Having a team working outside of the office is different from an in-office team. If you don’t have a remote work policy, you may risk losing control. Consequently, remote employees can become unproductive, lack communication, and lose morale.
Here are some of the main reasons your remote company needs a remote work policy:
- Provide Clarity
The biggest issue teams face when employees go remote is poor communication. Many employees are highly excited about going remote, but your company needs to offer clear guidance before allowing employees to work remotely. Furthermore, you should ensure your company clarifies all pay issues, tax, HR, training, office hours, and live training before employees start working remotely.
- Make Remote Work Scaleable
Depending on the strategy of your business, a remote work policy may apply to large numbers of the team. If you have a remote work policy, it will help your company get off on the right foot. In contrast, you’ll face a lot of work and extra costs to track and find employees if you don’t have a remote work policy. Therefore, it becomes challenging to scale your business.
- Increase Employee Value Proposition
The potential to work remotely may reduce employment costs, attract talent, increase productivity, and enhance the employee value proposition. That all becomes possible when you have a remote work policy to support these objectives. A remote work policy allows the opportunity to define what your company hopes to gain from providing remote work options. As a result, remote workers will understand their own value, their future prospects, and how they can benefit from remote work.
- Reduce Compliance Risk
A remote work policy can reduce the opportunity for risk before it arises. There are various risk factors, such as payroll withholding, immigration issues, and changing tax jurisdictions. Without a remote work policy, you may expose your employees and your company to unnecessary legal and financial risks.
- Complement Your Business Strategy
A remote work policy can help drive your workers to their desired income and compliment your business strategy. Some companies prefer employees to report to their office regularly, whereas other companies prefer their employees to go fully remote. Either way, thoughtful planning, and a top-quality remote work policy can help your organization realize its business strategy.
The Essentials To Creating An Excellent Remote Work Policy
Every company is different. So each company will create many remote work policies. Most companies focus on the following areas in their remote work policy:
- Goal setting
- Working hours
Let’s look at these policies separately:
- Goal Setting
It’s far easier to set clear organizational goals when your employees are all in-office. However, when managers and team leaders aren’t constantly overseeing the staff it becomes challenging to set goals. That’s why you must address goal setting within their remote work policy.
- Goal clarity has a proven direct impact on overall motivation within the workplace
- Around 90% of employees perform better when they have relevant and challenging goals
- A study from the University of Texas shows goal setting keeps companies consistent in business success
You can implement the popular SMART method—otherwise known as specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely—into your remote work policy. Afterward, you can support your remote employees and guide them towards the goals with live training.
People working from their laptops out of the office face more cybersecurity risks than those working in-office. Experts predict spending on cybersecurity products will grow to $1 trillion in the next five years.
By the end of 2021, experts predict cybersecurity will cost the world 46 trillion. That’s because cybercrime is on the rise, particularly as more people work remotely and use the internet to perform daily tasks.
- Companies that contained a cybersecurity breach within 30 days saved more than $1 million
- Experts predicted there would be a cyberattack every 11 seconds in 2021
- Criminals aim 43% of cyberattacks at small companies, yet only 14% have the tools to defend themselves
Your remote work policy should detail the risks, give clear guidance on the risks, and offer detailed instructions on what to do if your companies security is comprised. For example, telling remote employees to lock their laptops when employees are away from their laptops can prevent problems.
- Employee Wellbeing
The COVID-19 pandemic was awful for people’s mental health. According to reports, over half of the U.S workforce suffered from mental health issues during COVID-19. Poor mental health among remote workers leads to weak productivity, poor performance, and decreasing morale.
Working remotely has immense benefits, but it can be lonely for many employees. However, your company can help employee wellbeing by organizing team events via Zoom. Over 50% of companies are using video meetings more than before the pandemic. Although a company’s employees aren’t physically in an office, it’s possible to encourage communication through digital apps.
Additionally, a remote working study conducted during the pandemic found more than half of people were suffering from new aches and pains since working remotely. It’s important that employees spend time walking and exercising, and your remote work policy can encourage workers to become active during the day.
Thousands of companies worldwide worried about communication when the pandemic started. It can be challenging to maintain communication when a team isn’t in the office, and poor communication leads to isolation, negative mental wellbeing, and poor morale.
- A report suggests poor communication costs large companies $62.4 million per year
- Around 74% of employees imply poor communication makes them feel they are missing out on vital information
- A staggering 57% of employees are not receiving clear directions from their leaders
However, a remote work policy can prevent communication issues. The policy can detail specific communication times and remote social events. You should ensure communication is two-way, not top-down to guarantee the best performance.
You’ll need your employees to give regular feedback to you because you’re not directly overseeing them. Without feedback, it’s challenging to gauge whether they’re happy and how you can improve your company.
- Working Hours
Perhaps the most attractive aspect of remote working is the flexibility around time. With that said, if an organization struggles to manage its flexibility, it becomes genuinely counter-productive. It often leads to people being available when they aren’t wanted or doing too much overtime.
Therefore, it’s essential to include working hours in your remote working policy. You should find out the best hours for individual employees. In turn, you’ll boost company engagement, performance, efficiency, and productivity.
You also need systems in place to track working hours and include those systems in the remote work policy. These systems allow you to see which employees are doing too few or too many hours, without compromising on flexibility.
- Work Equipment
Although work equipment often becomes a grey area when employees are working remotely, it shouldn’t be. You need a remote work policy clearly stating who provides work equipment, who sets the work equipment up, and who’s responsible for the maintenance of the work equipment.
For example, can your employees use company laptops at home or in their own time? Can they install their own software from the internet? And can they travel with the laptop? Failure to do so often leads to damaged equipment, lost equipment, and increased outgoings.
As the world continues its trajectory towards remote working, it’s imperative to have a committed remote working team. With the right remote work policy, your remote employees will perform to the best of their talents in an ever-growing digital world.
If you’re looking to streamline your onboarding, hiring, and payroll processes for your remote team, contact us today and see how we can assist you.