Remote Work Policies and Guidelines: What to Know cover

Remote Work Policies and Guidelines: What to Know

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Without being confronted with a barrage of statistics of how many companies are turning to remote work, it should be blatantly obvious that society’s work habits have done a 180°. No one can go anywhere without hearing about someone boasting about their boss’ new remote work policies or about a swanky new tech tool that makes remote work easier.

“Going to work” means something entirely different to a big population of people today. Now, we’re looking at a virtual future that’s here to stay and evolve. And that’s why remote work policies need to exist for all established businesses.

Importance of Remote Work Policies

Before the overhaul of the world that was COVID-19, only 6% of employed people worked primarily from home. The pandemic changed this statistic immensely, increasing that statistic to 35%. Employers and employees began to see the benefits of remote work. They realized that they didn’t really have to commute and could do their work from anywhere. Employees didn’t have to stay within four walls and a room lit up by fluorescent lighting. Companies also began to look outside of their local vicinity to find talent, which globalized the workforce.

Remote work policies exist to help manage this new, non-traditional office environment. These rules help employees transition smoothly into the organization. These also establish a strong connection between employee and company. They outline things like working hours, equipment use, security, and more.

With these guidelines in place, businesses can become more productive and more flexible and provide a better work-life balance for their employees to retain top talent.

Key Components of Effective Policies and Guidelines

Putting together a proper remote work policy requires a lot of thought and structure. A good one consists of basic guidelines. Examples are defining work hours or listing all the tools and hardware needed. Managers can create better and well-defined ones, with performance expectations, places to find tech support, and a detailed scope of remote work. Here are some essentials that you should include in your remote work policy:

Communication Protocols

When team members are all across the world in different time zones, communication is more challenging. Many remote-first companies use a variety of communication tools to cover all bases, whether it’s Microsoft Teams for video calls or Slack for general team communication.

There are also a lot of guidelines about responsiveness. For example, team members might need to respond to emails within 24 hours during workdays. Or, they might need to reply to instant messages within a couple of hours.

Urgent matters might have a specific priority tag for immediate responses. Meanwhile, non-urgent communication could be scheduled for meetings that are held at a time that works for everyone.

Performance Expectations

Employees who work remotely don’t have higher-ups hovering over their shoulders or work in an inherently collaborative environment. This in itself makes having performance expectations important in remote work policies. These expectations should be clearly defined to the point where every single employee knows how their productivity is measured. For example, does your company measure productivity by hours put in, milestones achieved, or results shown?

Security Measures

Remote work presents a lot more security risks than traditional office environments. They’re magnified because employees are prone to using their own personal devices or home networks, which are often less secure than company networks. Outlining detailed security measures will help to reduce these risks and protect personal information and company information from a breach. These policies might include mandatory use of VPNs, two-factor authentication requirements, going through security training, data backup protocols, and more.

Technology Requirements

To even be able to work remotely, employees need to have the right tools, including hardware and software. Most companies will provide these or offer allowances to help workers set up their own home office. Doing so enables everyone to collaborate on the same tools.

Perhaps your company provides a company-issued laptop, VPN subscription, and subscriptions to different software applications. You might also have a set allowance to buy items like chairs, desks, and more.

Tips and Best Practices for Creating or Updating Remote Work Policies

Knowing what to put into an effective remote work policy is one thing. But how do you structure it for the first time and continuously keep things fresh and up-to-date?

Before even creating the document, make sure everyone involved in the process has their say about the policy. The IT department might have the inside scoop on necessary tech tools and security training. And, team leaders might want to include specific information for their specific teams. Considering and implementing all these viewpoints ensures that you go for a holistic and complete approach. Otherwise, you might have a fragmented and one-note work policy.

Once you’ve implemented all the company-specific aspects, you might also want to consider what’s up in the rest of the industry. Are there novel trends that successful businesses are using in their remote work policies? These tidbits will help you refine your own policy and adjust and improve accordingly.

And remote work policies aren’t just one-and-done. You’ll need to revisit and reinforce it every so often to see whether the rules and regulations are relevant. You could also look into revising it if you receive valuable input from employees.

Maybe you’ve switched to a different content management platform or used a different process for remote onboarding. Either way, no new employee should read the policy and be confused about how things operate in your business.

Many modern companies are starting to show their workers that they value them as human beings too, including other modules in their remote work policies on how to maximize their productivity or how to manage burnout. The scope of these policies is much wider than they used to be, as employee well-being and productivity is seen as synergistic.

Guidance on Tailoring Policies to Different Organizations or Industries

Searching for a remote work policies template might be a great place to start. But because these guidelines are so specific to the industry you’re in or the type of organization you classify yourself as, it’ll need to be tweaked. Healthcare providers will have stringent policies on hours and conduct with patients, while marketing companies will likely have less emphasis on these things and more on deliverables and creative collaboration.

In order to adapt your policies properly, you’ll need to have a strong understanding of how your industry works. What are the specific challenges and opportunities within your sector? Put yourself into the shoes of your employees and think about their day-to-day tasks, the nature of their roles, and what they need in their home offices to meet deadlines, communicate with others, and be productive.

Take a step back and think about what employees would want to maintain a work-life balance and feel like working at your company is worth it. You could provide mental health days, an allowance to use on specific self-care and well-being spending like therapy sessions or healthy work snacks, or even provide access to meditation apps.

Creating Remote Work Policies is a Must

If there’s one thing you choose to take away from this article, it’s that a carefully made remote work policy is indispensable if you’re a remote-first company. It’s the crux of all those incredible remote work benefits that both your business and its employees get to enjoy – productivity, satisfaction, motivation, retention, clarity, structure, flexibility, and more.

But how exactly do you make the perfect remote work policy? By including all key players in the process, key components, and customize them to your specific sector and business needs. Taking stock of what other successful companies are doing too can provide you the inspiration you need to stay forward-thinking and focused.

Ready to give the whole remote work structure a whirl, or want to expand your current remote workforce? Wing is your one-stop shop for virtual assistants (VAs) in a variety of fields. Whether you need a social media assistant, customer service representative, or full-on executive assistant, our pool of dedicated VAs can provide the managed remote talent experience your company needs and deserves.

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