Remote workspaces and home-based policies are growing in popularity, especially in the tech industry.
Many employees embrace remote work for its flexibility. Raul Castanon Martinez, a senior analyst at 451 Research, said that mobile devices and cloud-based apps have made it possible to do so. People can now do the same work from remote workspaces and the motivation to come into the office has dropped.
Most traditionally-staffed organizations begin by allowing employees to work remotely part-time to test the waters, said Castanon-Martinez. He believes that eventually, this will lead to an “Uber-ization” of the workforce, with more people moving to remote full-time jobs.
Listed below are some guidelines to help you start your remote work policy off on the right foot.
First, companies must determine which positions can be worked remotely and then state these in their policies.
Carol Rozwell, Gartner analyst, said that companies can determine which positions are eligible to work remotely by analyzing their work processes and operating models. As an example, she used her own experience: “If you’re on the phone right now, it doesn’t really matter from where I’m calling, doesn’t even matter where you called me.”
However, some companies may not permit remote workspaces. Remote-compliant jobs should be addressed from the beginning by companies that do not have such positions. This will eliminate any future inquiries or requests for remote work.
Secondly, the policy should outline the availability expectations for remote work if a company allows it. Castanon-Martinez said that a policy should outline whether a company has a general 9 a.m.-5 p.m. work schedule or allows employees to choose their own hours.
Employees will be more productive if they are given clear instructions from the beginning about their schedules. Unfair working conditions can arise when one employee has the freedom to set their own hours and another is restricted from doing so.
Castanon Martinez also suggested implementing a time limit for responding to emails.
Castanon-Martinez suggested that companies establish a specific rule. It should measure the time it takes for remote employees to respond to coworkers. He also specified what communication methods should be used.
The organization of expectations around communication fosters healthy relationships between supervisors and employees. No one will be concerned about productivity expectations or feel left out.
Many companies have no way to measure remote worker productivity. Remote workspace policies must tackle this issue head-on.
There are many ways to measure productivity, including time spent on the project and the resolution of cases. Companies also need to decide how to assess their employees.
Rozwell stated that it’s important to measure the outcomes of work and not just how many hours were worked. If you can measure outcomes after someone does the work remotely and get the desired result, that’s better than trying to measure performance based on hours.
Remote workers require the right tools in order to do their job. Companies must clearly state the equipment they will provide to remote workers. They must specify whether they expect their employees to supply their own computers.
Rozwell stated that some organizations require internet services that meet a specific speed requirement. Potential remote workers need to be aware of their technological expectations in order to determine if they are able to meet them.
Companies should also specify whether remote workspace support is available for equipment. Nearly all large companies offer remote support for technology, but they do not have on-site tech support. The policy outlines what remote employees should do when faced with technical problems. This will help you to create a plan.
While most company policies address rightful termination, Rozwell stressed its importance in a remote work policy.
Employers must clearly state that they will not terminate employees for working remotely. Rozwell stated that remote work is a common way for managers to feel uncomfortable. Communication is key here.
It’s a good idea to include a preference for the environment that an employee works in as part of a policy. Some companies require that supervisors approve the physical environment before they work remotely.
Rozwell stated that it’s a safety and health issue. If you look at an office environment, you can assume that it’s safe and that there is a system in place to detect fires or break-ins.
Security is a major problem for remote workspaces.
Although large companies have secure networks in place, security can be compromised if information is removed from the offices.
Rozwell stated that employees need to exercise extreme caution when working in public areas. Address specific company guidelines in writing. For example, many companies forbid the use of public Wi-Fi for work purposes.
Significantly, any policy must address the security and confidentiality of clients. A protected work environment makes it easier to keep confidential information private. Rozwell said that if you have a client calling you in a cafe, it is important to ensure you don’t discuss or share sensitive information.
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