Businesses are starting to realize that remote work is entirely successful at scale. With millions of people all over the world required to work from home during the COVID-19 epidemic. The pandemic forced plenty of companies to adapt to a remote working lifestyle to ensure their business can remain operational. The effectiveness of remote working has led to a consensus that remote working is going to continue, even once the pandemic is over.
It shouldn’t be too much a surprise since remote working offers flexibility that employees crave, and it causes a boost in productivity. Recent studies have revealed that remote workers are placing even more days a month compared to office-based employees. Statistics like that show the ultimate benefits of the bottom line.
As a leader, how can you continue building from this success and ensure you receive the most benefits from the flexibility offered to your team. Remote working policies could hold the information you need and play an essential role.
What is a remote policy?
Remote working policies are essentially an agreement that describes everything required for an employee to be granted the right to work from home. The policy needs to outline who can work from home, what is expected of them, how they should be doing their work, how their work performance is measured, what support is available to them, and the legal rights to become remote employees.
Why have a remote policy?
There is a good chance that you might think your team knows all of the rules concerning remote working. That makes the idea of creating a formal policy obsolete if you decide that working from home or elsewhere off-site is alright.
Unfortunately, that is not the appropriate way of thinking like a business leader. Keep in mind that remote working is vastly different from having your entire workforce working together in a single location. Not setting up clear boundaries on who does what, where, and when can lead to confusion and feelings of unfairness which causes everyone to disconnect. It is something that most businesses are currently risking, with over half of them operating without having set a remote policy in place.
Before COVID-19, the companies already offering up remote working policies were making them a mandatory requirement. However, there is a good chance that most companies that recently jumped onto remote working have neglected to create a remote policy for their remote employees. With the pandemic having proved that many jobs can be accomplished off-site, there is going to be a necessity for remote policies.
Having a policy that merely states that everyone can work from home provided their job can be completed from home is black and white. If you don’t have a strict set of rules in place, it could lead to disagreements since there will be one rule for a single person and one rule for another.
The intent behind these remote policies is not about restricting what is and isn’t allowed. A solid remote working policy should not be intended to set out rules and what an organization expects from its employees. Instead, it should offer autonomy and empower the employees to work in ways that suit them best, ultimately boosting productivity and business success.
So how do you set up a remote working policy?
Business leaders need to take the time to determine what positions are qualified to work from home and state them in the policy. Companies need to take the time to analyze their work and operation model. Doing so allows them to decide which position can and should be done outside the office environment. For example, if your business sells SaaS products, then there is a good chance that most of your work can be done remotely.
However, not every company has enough jobs that can be done off-site. Businesses without remote-compliant positions need to state from the start, cutting off any future requests or inquiries concerning remote working. Furthermore, there needs to be some consideration on where people are allowed to work. Should the remote employee be permitted to only work from home, or are they allowed to set up shop in a shared workspace or work from a coffee shop?
Take the time to make sure your policy is transparent on the rules set in place.
Remote workers require the appropriate tools to finish their projects and tasks. That is why companies need to state what type of equipment they are willing to offer their employees. If a company expects remote employees to provide themselves with the equipment they require, it should be specified in the remote policy.
Certain companies may require remote employees to have an internet service that is capable of reaching speed requirements. Prospective remote employees must be aware of the technological expectation upfront, so they are aware of what they need to meet those standards.
Remote working has become a popular option among employees due to the implications of flexibility around time. However, if a company is incapable of managing flexibility, it can lead to severe issues, with employees doing far too much overtime or not being available during hours they are needed. There is a good chance that your employees could be answering emails during the evening and weekend, which could lead to issues like burnout and fatigue.
However, offering autonomy is valuable for remote working. The standard 9-5 is obsolete with remote working. By permitting remote employees to work during hours that suit them best, an organization can increase engagement, performance, and productivity. That is far more crucial in today's world, where remote employees are trying to balance out home responsibilities along with their working ones.
Setting up some transparent guidance on working hours and having a system in place that allows you to track time will permit managers to see whether employees are doing too many or too few hours, all without compromising the flexibility of the employee.
As we have stated previously, the remote policy should determine how remote employee's productivity is measured. There are several ways leaders can measure a person's productivity, whether it is how long they spent on a project, cases they managed to resolve, client interactions, and so forth. Companies need to set a policy on how they are going to evaluate their remote employees.
Business leaders can decide to measure the outcome of work instead of the number of hours a worker puts in. If they can measure results after an employee performs the work from home and sees the desired results, that is far better than merely trying to measure their number of hours.
Frequent, effective, and personalized communication is necessary so that businesses can ensure their remote employees remain informed. That way, they are aware of what is going on in the organization, ask any questions, or provide feedback in real-time. However, communication can be one of the more challenging aspects for business leaders and remote employees when working off-site.
A lack of communication can cause poor performance to occur within the team and lead to them feeling isolated from everyone. Isolation and loneliness are particularly common concerns among remote workers. That is why business leaders need to consider communication and not assume that everyone will automatically communicate with each other.
Lay down a clear set of guidelines of when and how meetings should be conducted. Plus, make sure your communication is two-way. You need to be aware of what is going on with your remote teams, not just drip information into them. Surveys are an excellent way for managers to gauge how their remote team is currently doing and offer them a way to gain better insights.
Being aware of what you want to achieve is essential for any business, but without having a physical presence of team members and leaders to prompt and encourage, goal settings become more critical. So it is necessary to come up with objectives that are clear for every remote team member to understand.
Setting up goals and frequent check-ins to see how everyone is progressing and discussing ways of dealing with challenges offer ongoing support to the employees. Plus, it is an excellent way for business leaders to encourage, recognize achievements, and celebrate successes.
Employees working from home have to deal with different cyber risks compared to those working on-site. Sizable organizations work on a secure network that protects their essential information. However, when someone takes that info outside of the office space, security is not guaranteed. For instance, there is the issue of surfing the net from insecure networks in public locations or shared accommodations. Even at home, a person in the household could see personal information, and that where a potential security breach could occur.
Companies need to set policies that ensure people are aware of the potential risks, offer guidance on avoiding security risks, and instruct them on what they need to do if security does become compromised. Basic steps, such as educating people on how to lock their laptop screens when they are aware of it, can ensure appropriate precautions are taken.
Remote policies ensure your team remains on track and remain aware of what they are allowed to and not allowed to do. Setting up these policies also guides them through any potential issues that could arise in the organization. New remote employees will also know what they are getting into when signing on to your company. Take the time to set up your remote policy soon to ensure everyone remains on the same page.