The 5 Practices Every Remote Work Policy Needs, According to Experts
According to Prithwiraj Choudhury, a Harvard Business School professor and expert on remote work, In 10 years, "remote work" will simply "be work." This might not be far from the truth when McKinsey reports that 9 in 10 companies are switching to a hybrid work model in just two years after the global workforce packed home from the office.
In the United States, over 4.7 million people work remotely at least half the time, and 16% of companies in the world are 100% remote with a remote work policy checklist.
The world is facing one of the biggest changes in work in recent times, and like all new processes, there should be guidelines so you don’t leave anything out.
Any effective work-from-home policy should set the outcomes and expectations in a remote workplace. But flexibility must be afforded to the processes and workflows involved in other to achieve a great work culture and ensure productivity.
We interviewed 5 remote work experts to find the absolute “must-haves” to create a remote work policy checklist. This will help you provide the absolute best experience as you continue working remotely.
1. Asynchronous Work Policy
Asynchronous work is the practice of working in a group without requiring all members to be online at the same time. Individuals can increase their productivity by working asynchronously instead of waiting for others to finish tasks.
The key to asynchronous work is to set up processes that allow employees to operate independently while also giving them the trust and flexibility required to complete their tasks.
Your policy and processes should ensure that everyone can work their ideal schedule, regardless of their function. Remote workers overall have experienced increases in productivity because they have cut out time wasters like the commute and distracting office conversations.
According to Andy Bowen, Manager, Remote-First Collaboration at Cimpress/Vista a comprehensive remote work policy should be "Async-by-default. This mindset is essential to thriving in a remote-first world, not just making it work."
This means cutting out unneccessary meetings that could easily be summed up in an email. All task management should be advanced in your project management tool while communication between employees should mostly live in your messaging app.
Your remote work policy should explicitly state how projects are advanced, when a meeting is absolutely necessary and all the relevant communication channels.
2. Compensations and Perks Policy
Perks for remote workers are company-specific, but there are some benefits that every company should consider if they want to retain their current employees and attract new talent. Some employers provide work-from-home equipment, such as laptops, computer monitors, or desk equipment. Others offer reimbursement for any office-related expenses such as electricity or wifi.
One of the most appealing benefits a company can offer for remote work is the ability to work from any location (WFA Policy). Some companies will even give stipends for traveling or taking vacations. While at other companies, remote work just means employees can only work from their own home in their current country or a nearby co-working location.
A remote work policy should specify first where exactly employees can work from and for how long. Companies should also clearly include the number of vacation days they can take and if they can travel and work.
Pilar Orti, Host of the Virtual Not Distant Podcast, believes a remote work policy should "… make sure there are very clear boundaries and instructions for when people go on holiday, and making sure people take time off when they're sick."
3. Decision-making structure
Without a clear decision-making structure, your remote employees will experience blockers and confusion about where to take their problems.
Molood Ceccarelli, a remote work strategist, believes, "It is the responsibility of every remote leader to ensure that everyone in the organization is aware of and fully understands how decisions are made about various aspects of work and business processes. This simple policy will inform every remote worker to know the reasons behind decisions and the pathways to creating business value for customers, and it also empowers people to make better decisions that are in line with the business's direction."
While there are enormous benefits of group decision-making that come from a collaborative video call, there has to be some structure when a meet isn’t possible.
This can be dictated in an excel sheet where every department has a decision-maker for their function or in a notion doc that lists who has authority and who provides support.
Power shouldn’t be centered around the CEO or one manager because then they will hold everyone up.
4. Employee participation
Remote work is not an Adhoc arrangement or a place filler that come from the top down! Allowing your employees to have a say in what is included in your policy can help businesses be more productive while also creating a more inclusive environment that continually fosters real connections.
Lisette Sutherland, a Remote work Facilitator, and author, explained, "let the teams decide how they want to work (i.e., don't mandate when or how often people should be back in the office) - and encourage teams to create a team agreement together to outline how they want to work)."
Employees should actively be involved in all decisions that affect them. One idea is to implement a workplace democracy. This practice empowers each remote employee to make decisions and participate in the implementation of remote work.
Applying democracy to a workplace is important to ensure employee engagement and make it easier to attract top talent and, therefore, increase productivity.
This can be done through polls and surveys asking the employee to choose how and where they want to work.
Employers should lean into trust and ask the right questions to create something that comprehensively covers all their employees’ wants and needs.
5. Establish Clear Expectations and Boundaries
When it comes to the transition from in-office to remote first, a policy is only as good as the results it produces. It's difficult to observe what others are working on when working remotely or on a hybrid or flexible schedule, unlike in a regular office setting.
A good policy should concentrate on expectations and metrics for evaluating their performance rather than how much time they spend online.
According to Tyler Sellhorn - "An essential item in remote work policies are expectations and norms around communication and online presence. Unclear expectations create stress and set a company up for misalignment and burnout."
Make sure each employee has clear KPIS and output expectations for each quarter.
Don’t rely on tracking their response times to messages or using time tracking apps to asses their performance.
Every role in a company is distinct, and similarly, the criteria for every team's success differs. The metrics for measuring the success of your remote profession policy should be less about numbers and more about people.
A remote work policy should set clear deadlines and goals for employees. This policy should also be clear about communication, reducing the chance of missed deadlines or substandard results. Check work for its quality from time to time. If things are starting to slip, it might be a sign to start drafting a new remote work policy.