Remote work policies set out the rules and guidelines that must be followed spite telecommuters.
While many organizations had remote working policies before 2020, the advent of COVID-19 compelled many companies to expand their policy’s scope. An effective policy is important to ensure that employees stay compliant and productive, no matter where they are working from.
How Remote Working Policies Impact Employee Performance and Trust
Under normal circumstances, remote work policies cover topics such as expectations, eligibility, and technology. However, since telecommuting has become the norm in today’s office environment, some advise expanding their scope to include flexibility.
One reason for this is that remote workplace dynamics differ significantly from onsite workplace dynamics.
For instance, in the office, managers can directly supervise employees’ activities. When working remotely, however, this is not possible. Instead, when managing remote employees, it is better to focus on outcomes rather than activities.
It comes down to trust.
If employers monitor their employees too closely and supervisors don’t give their workers room to breathe, employees will feel less trusted. Also, constant micromanagement can create an unpleasant work environment that can increase stress, friction, and mistakes.
Including performance measurement guidelines in the remote work policy, therefore, can help managers more effectively supervise their employees while also cultivating more trust in the workplace.
Points to Include in Your Remote Working Policy Template
Every organization should have its own remote work policy template that it uses either for the entire organization or for different departments. Regardless of the purpose of the template for its use case, it is important to include points such as those covered below.
Here are a few key elements to include in a remote work policy:
Scope and purpose
The scope and purpose is an essential element in any document that states what the document is, what it covers, and, sometimes, what it does not cover.
Some employees may not be eligible for remote work, while others will be. It is important to define who can and who can’t engage in remote work.
For instance, eligible employees may be those who:
- Have completed probation
- Fall under a certain category
- Have obtained permission from supervisors
Other criteria can depend on your own organization’s needs and requirements.
This section will outline the expectations and responsibilities related to remote work, not individual job responsibilities.
These can cover processes such as:
- Daily check-ins
Other Items to include can focus on communication protocols, technology requirements, and other accountability systems, if those are not included in separate sections, as outlined below.
Technology provisions and requirements
Technology is a critical element of remote work. After all, without digital technology, it is impossible for many workers to telecommute.
In this section, the policy can outline:
- Technology the employee must have
- Technology the employer will provide
- Other technology requirements, such as a strong internet connection
- Reimbursements related to technology
Since technology plays such a critical role in the remote and hybrid office models, business leaders and managers ensure that this section provides employees with everything they need to succeed. It is also important to focus not only on the technology itself, but how that technology is used, as we will see in the next section.
Cybersecurity guidelines are more important than ever in a digital, remote work world.
While information security protocols may vary from worker to worker and department to department, where possible, it is important to define those in the remote working policy.
Performance expectations should not change for the WFH workforce.
However, as mentioned above, employers may need to redefine the way they manage workers. Rather than supervising how employees spend their time, manager should focus more on output and results.
Since every organization is different, the way they measure that performance and manage employees should be defined clearly in remote working policies. Otherwise, as mentioned above, managers risk defining their own styles and expectations, which may or may not be affective.
Another section to include, if these guidelines are not included in a previous section, is communication.
This section will focus on areas such as:
- Communication software
- How managers and employees must communicate
- Communication between employees and other departments
- Communication with coworkers
It is important to bear in mind that the telecommuting policy is a binding legal document that outlines necessary processes and procedures for entire groups of people.
Not only does this document tell employees what to expect, it ensures that managers follow the same set of rules.
If it is not clearly stated in this or another policy, therefore, the processes may shift from manager to managers.
Employers should therefore craft processes and a policy that can maximize productivity and engagement across the remote workforce.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.