Remote work, once considered a luxury, has become a business necessity. Companies of all sizes, from startups to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), are embracing this shift in work culture.
A 2022 study by Gallup found that eight in ten remote-capable employees work remotely at least part of the time. More striking is the fact that employees who aren’t given the option to work remotely are more likely to leave their current roles.
Like any other operational change, the move to remote requires a comprehensive policy to guide the process. This article can help you create an efficient work-from-home policy that considers remote workplace security and employee productivity and lays out clear remote work guidelines.
Why your business needs a remote working policy
For organizations with a lot of moving parts and small operational size, such as SMBs, flexibility and adaptability are key. However, without a well-crafted remote working policy, chaos can ensue.
Let’s look at a few reasons why having a thoughtful, clear WFH policy matters:
- Consistency and clarity: A well-defined work-from-home policy outlines the eligibility criteria, procedures for requesting remote work, expectations regarding availability and communication and specific requirements or limitations. This ensures everyone understands the rules and can adhere to them consistently.
- Performance management and accountability: A work-from-home policy establishes a framework for measuring and managing employee performance in a remote setting. Setting performance metrics and guidelines ensures employees and managers understand the expectations. For this purpose, you can even introduce a Performance management tool in the policy. It will help streamline the employee working process, as you’ll have better insight into their strengths and weaknesses. Hence, you can suggest appropriate measures to improve.
- Security and data protection: Working from home (or a coffee shop) can open companies to liability such as data leaks. Outlining protocols for secure data access, the use of company-provided equipment or secure personal devices and guidelines for handling confidential information helps mitigate the risks associated with data breaches or unauthorized access.
- Ensures work-life balance: Working from home can quickly turn into working all the time. Businesses can create a supportive remote work environment by including provisions for setting boundaries between work and personal life, promoting regular breaks and encouraging a healthy work-life balance.
- Attract quality candidates: More and more employees prefer to work-from-home. By offering a clearly defined remote work policy, you can attract talented individuals from all over the world – and keep them.
A clear and comprehensive remote work policy sets the stage for success by establishing expectations, providing guidelines and ensuring consistency in remote work practices. Not only does this benefit employees by creating boundaries and promoting a healthy work-life balance, but it also helps organizations maintain productivity, foster collaboration and uphold accountability.
Establishing a remote work policy: Where do you start?
Having a well-defined policy is like having a roadmap—it guides your journey, ensuring everyone is headed in the same direction while understanding the rules of the road. A remote working policy helps set expectations and establishes guidelines for maintaining productivity and safety. Here’s how to create one that builds trust and helps your team get work done–no matter where they are.
Set expectations and guidelines
When crafting a remote work policy, one thing you must pay attention to is setting crystal-clear goals and expectations. This means clearly defining your organization’s remote work model—whether it’s fully remote, hybrid, or flexible. For instance, a fully remote policy may give employees the freedom to work-from-home or any location outside the office, while a hybrid approach combines remote and in-office work for a balanced setup.
Establish specific requirements for employee availability and working hours to ensure smooth collaboration. Consider defining core hours when employees are expected to be online for meetings or discussions while allowing flexibility for the remaining hours. This approach ensures teams can effectively collaborate, even across different time zones.
Be explicit about requirements for using video conferencing software for meetings, team collaboration tools like a CRM for project management and tasks and instant messaging platforms like Slack or Teams for quick communication. Providing clear guidelines on which tools to use for different purposes streamlines communication and creates consistent workflows.
Ensure remote workplace security
When it comes to remote work policies, security is non-negotiable. Implementing remote control software empowers your IT teams to provide top-notch technical support wherever they work from. With this software, troubleshooting becomes a breeze, ensuring smooth operations and minimizing any pesky downtime.
Secure remote access is another vital piece of the puzzle. That’s where virtual private network (VPN) technology comes into play. By using VPNs, you encrypt network traffic, fortifying it against unauthorized access and creating a secure communication channel between remote workers and company servers.
Start by stressing the use of secure networks. Encourage your employees to connect to trusted Wi-Fi networks or, better yet, utilize a VPN when accessing company resources remotely. Keep those antivirus software up to date and perform regular scans. It’s a simple but crucial step to thwart malware and cyber threats.
Don’t forget about the importance of strong passwords! Make it a point in your policy to educate employees on creating and storing unique, complex passwords. Password managers can be real lifesavers here. They generate and securely store passwords, giving an extra layer of protection.
Last but not least, phishing attacks are a real threat. Educate your employees on how to spot suspicious scams.
Be careful with remote monitoring
While trust is essential in a remote work environment, a certain degree of remote monitoring can help ensure productivity and accountability. It’s not about playing Big Brother, but rather about supporting productivity. Remember, however, that any form of monitoring should be transparent and clearly communicated to employees. Avoid software that tracks keystrokes or mouse movement, as these can feel overbearing–and they’re actually pretty easy to trick. Instead, establish remote work guidelines that outline expectations and show your employees you trust them to do their work.
Create a culture of trust
Creating a culture of trust is paramount when developing a remote work policy. Trust forms the foundation of effective remote collaboration and empowers employees to work independently without constant supervision. By fostering an environment built on trust, organizations encourage open communication, promote accountability and allow for greater flexibility, leading to higher productivity, employee satisfaction and overall success in remote work arrangements.
Instead of using software to track employees, incorporate performance expectations and measurement methodologies into your policy. Define how work progress and deliverables will be tracked and establish regular check-ins and evaluations.
Review and update the policy regularly
Remember, your remote work policy is not a one-and-done deal. It should be a living document that evolves as your organization grows and changes. Regularly review the policy, get feedback from your team and make necessary changes. This flexibility will help ensure the policy remains relevant and beneficial over time.
Successful remote work requires preparation
Remote work is the future, and startups and SMBs stand to gain a lot from this shift. However, to fully leverage the benefits of remote work, having a comprehensive remote working policy is a must.
By putting a comprehensive remote work policy in place, startups and SMBs can cultivate a productive and harmonious remote work environment that supports the goals of both the organization and its employees. So, take the time to craft a policy that sets clear expectations, provides guidelines and creates a strong foundation for remote work success.
Keep it clear, flexible and remember—it’s all about enabling your team to do their best work, wherever they are.