Creating an Effective Remote Worker Policy for Your Business

Updated 01/17/2023

IT and Business Operations

Creating an Effective Remote Worker Policy for Your Business

If any of your employees (including the executives), work remotely full-time, part-time, or occasionally when traveling, then you must have a Remote Worker Policy.

A Remote Worker Policy is a document that defines rules and expectations regarding employees working from home or outside of the office, including your data handling, security, client confidentiality, more.

A Remote Policy Can Help Answer Essential Questions, and…

A Remote Worker Policy will help to create structure and eliminate ambiguity. But before you get started, you should think through the questions you want your remote policy to address, such as:

  • Which jobs can and cannot be performed remotely?
  • What equipment is required?
  • Will "in-house" policies still apply to those working from home?
  • Will compensation remain the same?

Guidelines and Considerations

Below are guidelines to help you navigate the process of creating an effective Remote Worker Policy:

  1. Equipment - Will the organization provide remote employees with a stipend for their home computers and internet, or will they supply workers with business laptops, cell phones, and other technology? Is a BYOD policy already in place?
  2. Environment - Is the employee expected to maintain a particular work environment at home? OSHA has stated it does not expect businesses to inspect home offices. Still, providing employees with a checklist for keeping a healthy home office environment can be a good practice.
  3. Tech Support - Remote workers should know who to contact in the event of technical issues. With the lack of on-site help, is there an alternative method available for support?
  4. Travel - Some jobs require workers to meet in person from time to time. Others have business retreats that all employees are expected to attend, regardless of location. Are remote positions 100% off-site, or will some travel be necessary?
  5. Communication Methods - There are many tools for communicating with your team online. Clarify which programs will be used to collaborate with employees and how often they should check-in.
  6. Security and Confidentiality - How are off-site employees expected to keep customer and company data secure? Training workers on the dangers of social engineering and shoulder surfing may be necessary for those who want to work in public places like cafes. Will IT provide a VPN for connecting back to the office network? Emphasizing the importance of maintaining confidentiality is crucial.
  7. Eligibility – Who should be eligible for remote work and how do you define eligibility. Perhaps you have remote only positions, or you have a merit-based system, or the employee themselves may need to have worked for the company for a specific period of time before becoming eligible to work from home.
  8. Availability - Remote workers are sometimes expected to work on a different schedule than the regular 9 to 5. Can employees set their own hours as long as their goals are met?
  9. Response Time- Different work hours can lead to different response times. Should employees be expected to respond to emails and phone calls as quickly as in-office workers?
  10. Productivity - A lack of supervision for remote workers usually makes management nervous that the job won't get done. Supervisors should find a way to measure success, whether it's by the number of cases resolved, how many client interactions the worker has had, or how many projects were completed in a certain amount of time.
  11. Compensation - Will salary remain the same for all? Some companies will adjust payment based on an employee's local cost of living and other expenses.
  12. Legal - FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) states nonexempt employees must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. Set methods for "clocking in and out" to avoid overtime issues and procedures for requesting permission to work extra hours. Worker's compensation and insurance should also be discussed if still applicable.

Taking the Time to Craft an Effective Policy…

With a remote worker policy, productivity can improve, rules can become clear, and off-site individuals can feel more like part of the team. Legal issues can be avoided if done correctly, and costs can be reduced by saving on expenses typically used in brick-and-mortar offices. Most importantly, setting expectations and having open communication can ensure the success of a remote workforce.