Telecommuting Worker with Laptop

As the Coronavirus (CoVID-19) pandemic continues to spread, more and more businesses are beginning to implement remote work (telecommuting) strategies. At ExcalTech, we believe strongly in the benefits of a remote work program. If you find yourself wondering what you need to consider in order to implement such a policy for your business, below are some resources to help you build, maintain, and strengthen your remote work program.

Create a Remote Work Policy

A remote work policy is an agreement that covers the rules, procedures, and other guidelines that employees must follow when working remotely. It includes everything from expectations of working hours, cybersecurity requirements, best practices, and legal rights of remote employees. The policy should effectively eliminate any possible confusion that may arise from someone working remotely.

What to Include in a Remote Work Policy

  1. Determine how employees will work remotely. At ExcalTech, for example, our network engineers who often perform work onsite for our clients might not fit as seamlessly into a remote work policy as our remote support staff. Providing specific details about how certain types of staff can do their work remotely (as well as when they cannot) is essential.
  2. Provide the right tools for successful work and collaboration. For most workers these days, a computer and the Internet aren’t enough for them to perform their work. Collaborative communication tools such as Microsoft Teams (live chat, screen sharing, calling) and Jitsi (video conferencing) enable productive communication and collaboration, while tools such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) ensure proper cybersecurity.
  3. Establish clear rules about working remotely. While many employees can actually be more productive when working remotely, others can be prone to distractions. Set clear expectations about expected working hours, communication protocols, etc.
  4. Plan time for collaboration and socializing. Although remote workers communicate often with coworkers, they can still feel isolated from time to time. Be sure to have guidelines for scheduling time where employees can socialize and communicate in a more relaxed setting.
  5. Clearly document the legal rights that remote workers have. Remote workers are entitled to the same legal protections as in-office workers, but working remotely can present challenges to ensuring that your business is legally compliant. Establish a process for reporting hours for hourly remote workers along with guidelines about times that they can and cannot work. You also must ensure that you provide remote staff the same resources and assistance as in-office staff; otherwise, you could face discrimination or other workplace violations.
  6. Discuss compensation and benefits that remote workers will receive. Outline if remote workers will receive a stipend for certain computer equipment that they need to do their work, if they will be reimbursed for certain costs, and any other details that should be clear for staff working remotely.

How to Measure the Success of a Remote Work Policy

Success is a relative term, and whether or not a remote work policy is successful will vary with every business. No matter the company or the worker, though, it is important to always set clear goals and deadlines for employees in order to properly set expectations for them. Common metrics for determining the success of a remote work policy are traditional results-oriented metrics such as number of projects finished, number of hours worked, etc., while other common metrics include customer satisfaction as well as the satisfaction of your remote workers.

Build a Readiness Checklist for Working from Home

A readiness checklist should include questions that your business’ leaders must answer, along with checklists for the remote workers that detail what equipment, software, and other tools are needed when working remotely. For your leaders, the checklist should address questions covering how important decisions, guidelines, and other information will be communicated to employees, what mechanisms should be in place to ensure optimal cybersecurity, and what training employees should receive before working from home.

For your remote workers, the checklist should cover things like necessary equipment (computer, monitor, etc.), networking technology (high-speed Internet connection, surge protector, etc.), and specific software required to perform their work and communicate with coworkers.

Offer Tips for Maximizing Focus and Productivity

As mentioned previously, many remote workers can sometimes find it difficult to stay focused and motivated. Come up with a list of helpful tips your remote workers can use in order to keep this from happening to them. A few examples include:

  1. Dress in the same attire that they would if working in the office. Some employees find that dressing casually changes their mindset. Dressing in their normal office attire may help them with this.
  2. Enable flexible hours if feasible. Not everyone is naturally productive at the same times of day. By allowing workers to be flexible with when they work, you may get more out of them by letting some choose to work from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm or 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
  3. Establish set break times to create structure. Following a routine of taking lunch at the same time each day, taking the dogs for a brief walk, etc., not only helps remote workers to better focus during their non-break times, but also allows them to mentally disconnect and recharge.

Setting up a policy for your employees to work remotely can be a daunting task, but it should feel scary or impossible. If you need help putting together a remote work policy for your business, give ExcalTech a call at (877) 638-5464.

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