Partially due to the global health crisis, more and more businesses are opting for remote working for the foreseeable future, especially younger, faster growing companies. This in turn means you need to seriously consider your remote working policies.
Are you on top of your remote working policy and employee engagement? Here’s a quick guide to check yourself towards, and add any pieces you may be missing.
First, a quick executive summary:
- Set clear expectations for how remote working and performance tracking works for your company.
- Understand the individual circumstances of your employees. This is an overhead but it’s important given the current situation (more detail on this below).
- Offer clarity on the company policy if remote working becomes the norm and not the exception (checklist of topics to run through below).
Looking to create a flexible working policy – mixing remote work with flexible work hours? Here’s a shortcut to specific tips to that.
Advantages to a strong remote working policy
The reasons why remote working benefits not only you but employees really merits its own post. In short though, it boils down to mental health, productivity and retention… not to mention cost-save on office space.
A lot of companies are coming around to the tangible benefits of remote working. Read our case for remote working here >>
1. Set a clear remote working policy
You need clear guidelines. We understand this is essentially what a ‘policy’ is, so this point might seem redundant.
But you’d maybe be surprised how often we encounter organisations with policies that are essentially just shooting from the hip.
A clear policy is incredibly important for employees to all be on the same page.
2. Define what remote working success looks like
Partially for performance tracking, but also in order to help your employees understand what’s expected of them when working remotely.
Micromanagement is not the way to go. If you want to track employee performance when they are out of the office, make sure you have a results focused culture that puts output ahead of everything else.
As long as your employees know what’s expected of them, they will 9/10 perform the tasks. They’re adults after all! And, ultimately, do you care about the time they work or the output they produce?
3. Pay extra attention to who really benefits from remote working
Everyone benefits from remote working in at least some doses! Recent studies have shown that the added benefits from better work/life balance can be incredibly beneficial.
However – remote working can also take a toll on those who are not wired for it. Do make sure you understand the potential negative effects of remote working as well as the positives. For example, if a lot of employees re very extrovert and like the social interactions with colleagues – make sure you account for that with whatever remote social activities works for your company. See below for some examples.
And also, make the right choices for those for who remote working is extra beneficial. Draft your policy with specific attention to people who:
- Care for elderly parents
- Look after young children
- Have suppressed immune systems themselves
- Are at risk of receiving unpleasant treatment from others based on their race/religion
- travel a long way to reach their place of work
- Juggle other jobs (see what we did there)
Staff who fall into these categories need to have individual arrangements. There are more variables and considerations to take into account.
Remember – your role isn’t to completely prioritise the company or your expectations for their output, it’s about giving that person more flexibility to juggle everything and make sure their needs are heard.
The thing is – flexibility will lead to better output if done right >>
4. Don’t forget the basics
It could be easy to think big picture about your policy and forget the nitty gritty details. Never a good idea, because that’s where the devil is (and a lot of frustration. Here are some basics your policy needs to cover.
Do you have a central drive and enforce use of this? Whether this is OneDrive or Google Drive or something else, a cloud based system for all documents is a must, even without remote working. Heres a guide to creating a good folder structure.
Decide on a video conferencing system for your company. Whether this is Zoom or Hangouts or Slack’s video conferences or whatever works for you, having one central point where meetings take place reduces a lot of friction and confusion compared to if everyone gets to choose their preference.
Password sharing software
Is everyone set up appropriately? In the short term, providing laptops alone is fine and many people will have screens set up at home anyway. If someone doesn’t, the issue of “who pays” will surface. Discuss internally and make a fair decision that works for all. Though if you are saving on office space anyway, we recommend you pay for any equipment your employees need.
If face to face interactions are off the table, how do you intend to maintain and improve this?
having a “random” messaging channel for non work discussions makes the distinction clear
When to switch off
A surprising issue for remote workers is too much work. Schedule a catch up call or a tools-down time in everyones calendar to signal the end of the working day for when lines between work and life start blurring at home.
5. When do you not work remotely?
Unless your plan is a 5-day-a-week remote work policy for everyone (and even then!) you need clear guidelines on when and when to allow remote working.
Make sure your guidelines for remote working are clear, equal to everyone and agreed upon. We suggest running a survey to sense what works best for your staff and taking decisions based on this.
6. Keep the focus on fostering and measuring productivity
hHw are you measuring that staff are delivering? Remote and flexible often requires a mindset shift from all parties in order to work successfully.
For companies, it’s about letting go and putting the onus on the person themselves to self manage, making clear the consequences when they don’t.
For professionals it’s about taking a greater sense of ownership, planning more thoroughly about what can be delivered when and why / not.
Most of you will have a flexible working policy that works for you. If not, feel free to use our template and adjust it until it works for you.
If you’re interested in fostering a stand-out, productive work culture, check out our whitepaper Creating high-performance cultures using flexible working.