Working from home is a gigantic party.
You can basically do whatever you want. No rules. No requirements. Pure chaos – go ahead and sleep until noon, and don’t worry about company time.
…doesn’t sound quite right, does it?
Though I’m sure there are some people exploiting their remote work situation, the majority of remote workers are working harder than ever. They want to prove that remote work is effective so they can keep this massive privilege.
But if you want to make sure your remote workers are doing what’s expected of them, you’ll need to create a remote work or hybrid work policy.
So what exactly is a remote work policy and how can you create one?
Don’t worry – by the end of this guide, you’ll have all the answers.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Remote Work Policy?
- 9 Important Questions to Answer in Your Remote Work Policy
- 1. When can employees work remotely?
- 2. What are the core requirements for working remotely?
- 3. What are your scheduling and availability expectations?
- 4. How are tech devices and other resources distributed for remote work?
- 5. How should technology be handled to maintain security?
- 5. Is an office going to be available?
- 6. Will pay, benefits, or taxes be affected?
- 7. How will the company culture change?
- 8. Who will be managing remote employees?
- 9. Are these outlines subject to change?
- Remote Work Policy Template
- 4 Tips for Creating and Distributing a Remote Work Policy
- Managing Remote Employees Better
What Is a Remote Work Policy?
Let’s start with the basics. What is a remote work policy?
Essentially, it’s a document that outlines the rules and requirements for remote work and flexible work arrangements.
It also sets expectations with employees and holds them accountable for their actions while working remotely.
There are a few different types of similar policies worth exploring, but the differences are somewhat superficial, as all of them serve the same purpose:
- Remote work policies. Remote work policies outline rules and expectations for situations where employees will be working remotely most of the time or all of the time.
- Flexible work policies. Flexible work policies are more focused on employees who have a flexible working arrangement. For example, they may be allowed to work from home occasionally or may be allowed to choose their own hours.
- Hybrid work policies. Hybrid work policies are designed for employees who will spend their time divided between working in the office and working from home.
To be honest, you can call your policy whatever you want.
All that matters is that you outline all your expectations for employees as clearly and specifically as possible.
9 Important Questions to Answer in Your Remote Work Policy
Before sitting down to write your remote work policy, you’ll need to answer the following questions.
1. When can employees work remotely?
This is the biggest question you’ll have to answer.
Are you going to make employees come to work once a week to see each other and handle big meetings? Will you be a fully remote organization? Can employees change their work status as they see fit? Are there certain days where remote work isn’t allowed?
There are no right or wrong answers here; each organization will be different. But you need to have a solid understanding of what you’re hoping to achieve.
2. What are the core requirements for working remotely?
If your employees are going to work remotely, what are the core requirements?
For example, do they have to adhere to certain security best practices? Do they have to come into the office if you ask them? Are there productivity targets you want them to hit?
Don’t be afraid to go into detail here; the more specific you are, the better.
3. What are your scheduling and availability expectations?
How do you expect employees to work, communicate, and generally be available for work-related exchanges?
Do you need employees to be online and available for meetings and chats on a typical 9 to 5 schedule? Or are you giving them more scheduling flexibility? Are there certain hours of the day when everyone in the company is expected to be online?
4. How are tech devices and other resources distributed for remote work?
Will you be giving your remote employees all the devices, technologies, and resources they need to be successful?
For example, will you be distributing new laptops and computer accessories to your employees, or will they be responsible for providing their own devices? If you’re distributing devices, will the company retain ownership of these devices throughout the arrangement?
5. How should technology be handled to maintain security?
Cybersecurity is even more important in an era of remote work. If even one of your employees is vulnerable to attack, it could bring down your entire organization.
How do you expect your employees to handle security when working for your organization? For example, are they responsible for logging into a VPN? Do they need to follow certain password habits? Which networks can they connect to and which devices are they allowed to use?
5. Is an office going to be available?
Does your business have an office, and if so, can current employees use it at their discretion?
There’s some value in providing remote workers with the option of returning to the traditional workplace when they need a change of scenery or a place to collaborate with other coworkers.
However, you may not be able to accommodate this. Will you provide stipends for coworking spaces or alternative arrangements if an office is not available?
6. Will pay, benefits, or taxes be affected?
How will these new remote work arrangements affect company pay, benefits, and/or taxes?
Will you be giving employees an extra bonus to outfit themselves with a decent work from home setup? Will you be lowering pay or reducing benefits now that employees aren’t expected to commute to work or park downtown? What are the tax implications of this new work location?
7. How will the company culture change?
Whether you like it or not, your company culture is going to change.
You can’t establish a company culture for an in-person workplace and keep everything intact when shifting to a remote work or hybrid work policy; it’s just too hard to keep people coordinated and in contact with each other.
Get ahead of things by outlining how your culture is going to evolve from here (and how you’re going to reinforce it).
8. Who will be managing remote employees?
Will remote employees have a direct superior in charge of assigning them tasks, directing their work, and providing them with advice and support? If not, how are remote employees going to be held accountable for their work?
9. Are these outlines subject to change?
I can answer this one for you. The correct answer is yes.
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You should always leave room for flexibility and improvements in the future; make sure you specifically state that all your remote work and hybrid work policies are subject to change.
With the answers to these questions, you should have everything you need to start drafting your remote work policy.
Remote Work Policy Template
Here’s a remote work policy template you can use:
Start by writing a brief introduction. Explain what this policy is, what its intentions are, and how employees should read and use this document. You should also explain that this document is subject to further changes and that employees are responsible for reviewing the latest documentation to ensure they’re following the correct rules.
Next, create an overview section that sets expectations for your employees.
Be sure to include subsections on the following (most of which you covered when addressing the questions in our previous section):
- Availability and scheduling.
- Technologies and tools.
- Meetings and communication.
- Training and resources.
- Collaboration and culture.
- Pay, taxes, and benefits.
- Onboarding and documentation.
Tools and Security
After that, focus on the tools you’re going to provide your employees and your expectations for security and privacy.
- Devices and internet access.
- Software and other tech tools.
- VPNs and security measures.
- Compensation for accessories and other home office needs.
- Physical meeting spaces.
Important Rules and Consequences
In this section, you’ll lay out any important rules that employees must follow to remain part of the company. Don’t be afraid to be redundant with other sections; this should be a quick reference section that answers most employee questions at a glance.
Also, be sure to outline the potential consequences for not following the rules. Will there be a “3 strikes” style system in place for violations? Are employees subject to write-ups, suspensions, or docked pay?
Company Culture and Collaboration
Dedicate this section to company culture and employee collaboration. How are expectations for communication and collaboration going to change? What will you do to keep the company culture as strong as possible?
Legal Rights of Employees
Finally, make sure you outline the legal rights of your employees, including but not limited to:
- Monitoring and privacy.
- Hours and overtime pay.
- Rights to benefits.
- Grounds for termination.
4 Tips for Creating and Distributing a Remote Work Policy
Follow these tips to create and distribute your remote work policy.
1. Distribute the remote work policy early.
Get your remote work policy in the hands of your employees as soon as possible, especially if they’re already working from home.
You don’t want to be six months into a remote work arrangement and completely changing everyone’s expectations from that moment forward. You also want to give your employees plenty of time to read, understand, and take action on this policy.
2. Get a legal review.
Work with a lawyer. Give your remote work policy a thorough review.
Are there any weak points or holes? Are there legal rights your employees have that you haven’t called out directly? Are there any claims you make or rules you’ve set that are technically illegal, or challengeable in a court of law?
Sort this all out before sending out the policies.
3. Get signatures and review the information.
Make sure each employee takes the time to read the policy and sign a document stating that they understand it.
For redundancy, it’s also a good idea to host a meeting where you review the document together with your employees and answer any questions (because, let’s face it, at least some of your employees aren’t going to read it no matter how much you beg).
Keep signed copies of the remote work policy on file in case you need to refer to them later.
4. Periodically reassess and update the policy.
Your remote work policy should be a “living document,” getting reassessments and rewrites on a regular basis.
At least once a year, review the policy and see if there are any sections that need to be updated or rewritten; if you discover new flaws, be sure to address them and redistribute the policies for new employee signatures.
Managing Remote Employees Better
Managing a remote team can be tough.
But it’s a lot easier with a good remote work policy and the right tools and place.
And if you’ve read this guide, that means you’re already halfway there.
So what’s next?
With EmailAnalytics, you’ll have the other half of the equation – the perfect tool to measure employee productivity, engagement, and efficiency. With it, you can analyze the number of emails your employees are sending, their busiest times of day, and much, much more.
But it’s a lot easier to show you, rather than tell you. So sign up for a free trial today and see it for yourself!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.