Leaders are charged with creating a productive work environment, even when their teams may include employees working from home or other locations. The shift into remote work can be intimidating because it requires us to relinquish some control.
How do we know employees won’t take advantage of the system? How do you manage people when you don’t see them every day? These questions are often top of mind before embracing remote work on a broad scale.
The first step to managing this process is creating a remote work policy for your company. Implement guidelines to help employees understand what will be required of them if they choose to work from home. As you begin drafting a policy specific to your company’s needs, consider the following ideas.
One Policy or Two?
The first question you need to address is whether you want two separate policies or one overarching policy. If possible, avoid having separate in-office and out-of-office policies. Two separate policies can create confusion and lead to unfair treatment.
Develop a single policy that is specific enough to cover all the basic work requirements, but generic enough to allow employees to work how and where they are most efficient. Do not add specific language such as “employees must be in the office three days a week,” but choose to leave that flexibility to individual employees and managers. Letting your team choose how and when they work often leads to greater productivity and efficiency.
Organizations should establish expectations for remote workers to ensure employees stay on-task. Flexibility is one of the biggest reasons employees work from home, so it is important to be clear from the beginning about the level of work expected to be completed by a certain time. This can be accomplished by establishing clear deadlines and finding ways to quantitatively measure output to ensure you are maintaining or increasing productivity. It is most important to manage the output, not the process.
Clearly define how business expenses are to be measured. With remote work, the lines between business and personal tend to get blurred. For example, do you pay for office supplies for your employees’ home offices if they work from home? Do you change the way mileage is tracked if employees begin a commute from home versus the office? Although you likely have a policy in place for the traditional office environment, be sure to be clear with remote workers which expenses are covered by the company.
One of the biggest challenges for large companies is maintaining security. While working from home allows flexibility, it requires the ability to access sensitive information remotely. If security is key in your organization, work with your IT department to determine the best method for accessing and securing data. Equip your team with tools and software approved by your company and provide basic data security training. Be sure your legal department is up to speed on your security proposals. They can make recommendations and ensure your policies are appropriate for the level of security required.
If your company embraces remote work, begin drafting a policy today. A policy helps protect your company and ensures your employees know exactly what is expected of them, should they choose to work outside or inside the office. Be sure to be as clear as possible while maintaining the flexibility that remote work offers. Once the policy is created find a centralized place to post the policies so that everyone understands what is expected.
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