In a PwC survey of 120 US executives, 83% said: "the shift to remote work has been successful for their company." On the other hand, only 5% of those executives believe they can maintain company culture with a fully remote workforce.
But how can remote work be successful if it impedes maintaining company culture?
Answer: It’s a trick question. It doesn't have to be one or the other.
You can take the benefits of remote work—flexibility, efficiency, etc.—and still retain the benefits of in-person work. In short, there is a middle way.
But to walk that middle way, you need a roadmap. You need a remote work policy.
So in this post, we'll start with the basics: what a remote work policy is and why you need one. Then we'll get into the steps required to create and implement a remote work policy.
To wrap things up, we'll share a remote work policy template that you can adapt for your own organization.
A remote work policy spells out your company's rules for remote working. This could include, but isn't limited to, rules governing:
In short, a remote work policy spells out guidelines for employees who work from any location other than a company office. The policy's goal is to maximize the benefits of remote work for the company and employees.
There are both strategic and logistical reasons you need a remote work policy. In the next two subsections, we'll cover both these categories.
Remote work policies fall under the purview of human resources. But the strategic impact of these policies is company-wide.
In fact, for some organizations, such as InVision, GitLab, Synchrony, or Atlassian, successfully enabling remote work is a key competitive advantage. Yet InVision and GitLab are fully remote, while Synchrony and Atlassian are testing a hybrid model.
In short, these companies press the advantages of remote work in different ways.
The key for your organization is to understand where and how you can (and can't) press the advantages of remote work.
Among other things, a few advantages and benefits remote work provides include:
Once you've done the legwork to determine how remote work best fits at your company, you need the policy to codify your findings.
There was no planning for the transition to remote work caused by Covid-19. But sometime in the future, the virus will stop dictating terms. So there’s time to plan.
And according to Nicki Bellington, Atlassian’s head of talent programs, “[Remote work] is not like a light switch. We want to crawl and walk and then see how far we run.”
Both the process of creating your policy, and the document itself, will help you and your employees start to crawl, walk, and then run with remote work.
Creating a remote work policy requires detailed assessments of your team(s). You must determine:
Once you’ve made these determinations, you can use the remote work policy template below to document your policy.
Rolling out your policy isn’t quite as black and white.
How you roll out your remote work policy depends on the size of your company, internal perceptions about remote work, and so much more.
Atlassian started their adoption of remote work by adding fully remote positions to existing teams. Synchrony began by piloting hybrid and fully remote teams. And still others may start by simply soliciting volunteers to work in a remote or hybrid model.
However you decide to roll out remote work, you should be thinking about establishing new norms. The chart below shows various operational considerations and examples of each to help you think about what new norms might need to be established.
The sample remote work policy you see below is from Betterteam. You can use this sample as a template from which you can create your own remote work policy.
Please read the terms and conditions below, fill in the remote employee form, and return it to the head of your department.
This document contains the terms and conditions for working remotely. It should act as a guide for both management and the employee and must be signed by the employee to acknowledge they read through and understood the details herein.
An employee may be eligible to work remotely if their duties can be met through basic hardware and software, they’ve proven to be trustworthy, disciplined, and self-motivated, and have been given permission by the company.
Employees in roles that do not suit remote working conditions can apply for work from home permission for a few days a year.
While working remotely, employees must adhere to all the conditions in the Employee Handbook. All company policies around conduct, confidentiality, sick leave, etc., continue to apply, regardless of location.
Disciplinary actions will follow policy transgressions of any kind.
Employees must follow the work schedules provided to them, be sure to meet deadlines, uphold high-quality standards, and submit daily reports. And while some flexibility is allowed, the employee must agree to work set hours as much as possible, five days a week.
Tools will be made available to employees for managing time and tasks, communicating with co-workers, logging and tracking projects, and accessing resources.
Performance will be measured weekly, focusing on the same metrics that apply to work done in the office.
Employees are to be online and accessible for 8 hours, Monday to Friday. They are expected to check-in with their managers at least once a day.
Any correspondence from a co-worker or client must be answered as quickly as possible.
Tools have been provided for communicating with team members and collaborating on projects. Meetings will be scheduled for at least once a week. Times are to be discussed and agreed upon between the employee and the manager.
Employees working remotely will still receive full company benefits, including health insurance and worker’s compensation.
Employees are advised to choose a safe and secure location to work from and to maintain high levels of safety. The company is liable for injuries suffered in the pre-defined workspace during work hours only.
Only equipment owned by the company and on loan to the employee is covered by the company’s chosen insurer. All other equipment is to be covered by the employee’s personal insurance provider.
As per the Employee Handbook and the confidentiality agreement signed by the employee upon employment, securing data and company information should be of utmost concern. Any breaches in security protocol will lead to strict and swift disciplinary action.
Employees will be given access to a Virtual Private Network to secure connections with company servers and networks. The VPN must be used at all times during work hours. Under no circumstances may the VPN be used outside of work hours.
Cybersecurity measures have been put in place, and the software will be made available.
No changes will be made to an employee’s salary if said employee works from home, full time. Salaries will increase according to company policy and successful performance reviews. Employees working remotely remain eligible for promotion and skills development programs.
The company will also reimburse the employee for electrical and internet costs if the employee follows the correct protocol for reimbursements.
Job Title: ________________
Phone Number: ________________
I have read, fully understand, and accept the terms and conditions described in this document. I understand and agree with all the expectations, duties, obligations, and responsibilities discussed in the document.
Like we said, remote work impacts your entire organization. And even though the promise of remote work is compelling, implementing a new work model requires addressing and learning about new challenges.
If you’re looking for more resources to broaden your remote work horizons, check out a few of the other posts we’ve written about remote work productivity:
Work-life today is nothing like it was when we were kids. Here are some remote work predictions.
For better remote meetings, here are 4 essential tips.