Remote work is a different ballgame altogether. Remote employers need a remote work checklist to ensure that virtual work is feasible as well as efficient and effective. Since the office now is wherever employees are, it becomes more important for remote managers to know the locations where their teams are working from, whether they have a designated workspace and all the necessary remote work tools as well as their individual remote work circumstances. Remote-first and remote-friendly companies must have a remote work policy that protects their remote employees and facilitates remote work arrangements, while remote workers must align with their organizational remote work norms and culture. In this context, remote-first and remote-friendly organizations must implement expedient remote work regulations so remote work moves forward with minimal hiccups and maximal seamlessness.
A survey by Nulab indicated that the unpreparedness of remote workers even after two years of the global prevalence of the pandemic has pushed remote work into mainstream business and the economy. The following statistics show a worrying status quo as we enter the permanent remote work phase:
- 72% of remote workers are not working from a dedicated workspace.
- 40% of remote workers aren’t even working from a proper work desk.
- Nearly 20% of remote workers are making a go of it from the living room.
- 28.5% are working from the master bedroom.
- A majority (56%) are unable to bring equipment from their employer to work from home.
- A third admit to personally purchasing equipment to help them work remotely during COVID-19.
- The average spend on home office equipment was $194.
Remote work is a massive change for employers and their employees. Hence, a dynamic remote work policy imparting the rules and regulations of an organization’s distinct remote work processes is indispensable.
If you are an employer shifting to or looking to fortify remote work in your company, consider these remote work policy pointers:
- Remote work arrangement.
This is an important aspect because remote work isn’t limited to the work-from-home setting and the conventional 9 to 5 work hours. 100% remote work usually involves flexible work hours. Hybrid work requires remote workers to come to the office for several designated days in a work week – partial on-site work. Remote workers may take a workation or work from coffee shops, cybercafes, or co-working spaces. Ongoing or temporary remote work is also another factor. As an employer hiring remote workers, you have to make it clear about your organization’s remote work characteristics and expectations.
Genashtim is a 100% remote work company with clear and duly disclosed remote work policies and company culture. The Founder and CEO of Genashtim, Thomas Ng, updates Genashtim’s employees every month about the company’s latest policies and work culture through monthly internal newsletters. In February 2022, Thomas officiated the Take Some policy for Genashtim’s employees. Inspired by Netflix, the Take Some policy demonstrates the trust that employers have in employees when it comes to taking leaves. In return for that trust, employees utilize the perk to increase productivity and achieve better work-life balance.
- Flexible work timings
In work-from-home settings, it’s easy to lose sight of the boundaries of work and personal life. Remote workers tend to mix up their professional and personal life when they live and work in the same place. This can trigger stress and induce burnout.
So, companies should define the times when employees work and when they can attend to personal matters. Genashtim does this by implementing flexible work schedules for its staff.
As of 2022, 60% of Genashtim’s employees are people with disabilities (PWDs) which means that many of them cannot work for eight straight hours with only a one-hour lunch break. They need regular breaks to take care of their medical conditions. Genashtim understands the needs of its staff and accommodates them. At the same time, Genashtim also educates its employees about the company’s work culture which can be encapsulated as “incomplete detachment from work.” This means, that whether it’s the weekend, or an employee is on leave or after their work hours, employees must respond to work emails, give heads-up, or even do the tasks that are considered urgent. This is Genashtim’s distinct, uninscribed work culture.
- Equality of remote work and on-site work
There shouldn’t be any difference in how remote workers and on-site workers are treated in terms of compensation. Work done remotely, including overtime work must be paid accordingly. Genashtim uses the “Time Doctor” to measure the hours employees spend working in a day. Since the remote work at Genashtim has flexible timings, Time Doctor helps monitor employees’ productivity and records their working times. Some companies have regulations to pay for unreported hours of remote work that they know or have reason to believe had been done.
- Expenses reimbursement
In the office, work equipment and amenities are provided. As companies shift to remote work, they may provide tools that their remote employees need such as:
- Mobile device and service
- Remote IT assistance
- Antivirus and anti-malware software
- Apps for communicating, timekeeping, scheduling, syncing, and saving files
Some companies compensate their remote employees’ internet bills since a stable and fast internet connection is a must for remote work.
- Remote workplace setup
For companies, the security of their workspace is paramount, and this extends to remote workspaces. Remote employees may be subjected to the following restrictions:
- No other members of the household should use the devices used by the remote employee.
- The tools provided for work should not be used for non-work-related purposes.
- Password protection is given to devices that are used for work.
- Determine the extent in which the employer may structure, monitor, control, and inspect the tools used for remote work and sometimes, the physical remote workspace.
Remote work support includes the providence of a desk, chair, office supplies, IT equipment, and other related support – the support can either come from the employer or set up by the employee. This also includes backup devices, equipment, and supplies.
Some of Genashtim’s PWD employees are severely disabled like Therese Saranza who is a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic. Genashtim’s PWD employees work remotely in workplace setups that are comfortable and accommodating for them. So, Genashtim doesn’t interfere in their physical remote workplace setup, giving them the liberty to work as they feel best and most productive.
Some companies go for more relaxed remote work setup regulations, with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. This is a policy that allows a remote employee’s personal devices to be used for work. Such companies compensate for their relaxed remote work regulations by regular monitoring, which is disclosed to the employee, which often requires information from the employee. Genashtim’s IT wing, Abled Online conducts frequent IT checks on the employees’ work devices to ensure that the systems are in optimum conditions and meet the company’s requirements.
6. Virtual coffee/tea sessions
Your biggest asset is your remote workers; their well-being impacts your business directly. Consider monthly, bi-weekly or weekly fun virtual coffee sessions with cross-department members, department members, and team members to make up for the lack of physical connection. Virtual coffee sessions allow co-workers to know more about each other and how they are doing. Fun activities and games can be organized to foster camaraderie and create a relaxed atmosphere. Such virtual coffee sessions can also tone down imposter syndrome and intimidation while setting a casual tone between managers and teammates.
These virtual get-together sessions can also double up as a space where employees can raise remote work-related and personal issues that they face. Their issues can be escalated to the executive level so that employees receive help and support in addressing them. Happy and healthy remote employees mean peak productivity and cumulative profit – everyone wins.
Remote work is evolving. What started as a means to an end to continuing business operations in the throes of the pandemic has become a mainstay – top companies have already announced permanent remote work for their staff. In that light, your work policy should also be constantly and consistently re-examined and updated. What works now wouldn’t necessarily work after two years so avoid rehashes and invest in digital transformation while continuously developing dynamic remote work policies as needed.
A thoughtful approach that is receptive to the perspective of the remote worker and the remote workplace is necessary for a smooth inclusion, transition, and immersion of remote work.