With advances in technology, more employees are working remotely, a trend that appears to be gaining momentum. According to a recent study, about one-third of all workers will be working remotely within the next ten years. Currently, about two-thirds of all companies have at least some employees working remotely.
Although working at home has become more popular, few companies have put together any kind of policy or procedure for remote working. But this can cause problems and confusion, when expectations and guidelines are not spelled out. Here are some issues to consider when developing a remote worker policy.
1. Who is eligible
Any remote job policy should clearly state which jobs can be done remotely and which jobs cannot. In order to do this, companies will first have to analyze each job and look at its overall operations.
Some companies may not have any jobs that can be done remotely, and if so, company leadership should clearly state this to prevent any confusion or requests to work remotely down the road.
The company also should have guidelines for hours. If someone is working from home, when should they be available? Is it a 9 to 5 schedule, or will more flexibility be allowed? Again, this will prevent problems from cropping up later, if, for example, one employee is allowed to set his or her own hours, while another cannot.
How will the remote employee communicate with his or her supervisor and colleagues? When will the remote worker be expected to communicate and respond to messages? This needs to be spelled out as well.
Another key element of any remote work policy is how productivity will be measured. It can be measured by the amount of time an employee devotes to a task, the number of meetings with clients, the number of tasks or projects completed within a certain time frame, or some other metric.
There needs to be clear performance expectations.
Remote working policy also needs to address the issue of equipment. What hardware will the company provide, and what equipment will the employee be expected to provide?
A remote work policy also needs to clearly state that no employee will be let go simply on the basis of working remotely. The reason for this is that many managers are still uncomfortable with the idea of employees working from home or some other location.
This is also why setting up communication guidelines is so important.
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