Remote work policy for small businesses
When we do our flexible/remote work audits with companies, we usually budget for between 6 and 12 months to go from zero to remote or flexible. This week, companies are being asked to change culture and habits in 6 days rather than 6 weeks. While, in one way, a positive outcome of the current situation may be the uptake of remote and flexible work when we get back to ‘normal’, on the other hand, if it all does drastically wrong because of lack of planning/training/infrastructure, we genuinely hope that naysayers will not use COVID-19 as an excuse to never go down the remote work road again. We shall see. One thing is for sure, no one can predict what is going to happen next.
We were involved in a webinar last night in conjunction with Network Cork. Grainne O’Donovan from Douglas law gave us some invaluable advice on legal issues and we gave tips on remote work. One of the main queries was from small business owners seeking a remote work policy.
I will summarise the most important aspects you need to take into consideration here:
A policy can be broken down into three pillars : People, process and tools
- People – You will need to keep people sane and focused and connected.
- Process – Social interaction and communication is key. Guidelines for meetings are necessary. Metrics and deliverables are required to be designed to measure work done. Weekly reports and daily check-ins need to be scheduled. Even though we are now in a different physical space, we can still connect as colleagues. A new communication policy is vital.
- Tools – If you are a small company, keep it simple. There is no need to invest in new technology – most of the tools we use are free like zoom, google hangouts and whatsapp.
Other points to take into consideration:
Data Protection – is any personal and sensitive data secure when it is accessed remotely?
Health and Safety – Insurance/Risk assessment/Home office Ergonomics
Working Time Act – Ensure employees take breaks and daily and weekly rest
I have drafted a BASIC remote COVID-19 work policy that you can copy and paste and change as you see fit. Disclaimer: we are not legal experts and these are only guidelines for you to work off:
Sample Policy brief & purpose
Our Employee remote work policy outlines our guidelines for employees and employers who work from home. We want to ensure that everyone is clear on policy and procedure during this time of COVID-19.
This policy applies to all employees.
Remote working is a temporary agreement between employees and managers to work from home for the COVID-19 confinement period.
Remote working agreement
Remote work employees should indicate their primary working address in this remote working agreement.
Please advise us of all your contact details in the case we may need them to assist the HSE in contact tracing.
Remote working that works
To ensure that employee performance will not suffer in remote work arrangements, we advise our remote employees to:
- Choose a quiet, comfortable and distraction-free working space, where possible
- Have an internet connection that’s sufficient, where possible – if you need to hotspot off your phone, the company will cover any additional cost of this – please advise.
- Dedicate their full attention to their job duties during dedicated working hours, where possible.
- Adhere to break and attendance schedules agreed upon with their manager, where possible
- Ensure their schedules coincide with those of their team members for as long as is necessary to complete their job duties effectively.
Team members and managers should determine long-term and short-term goals. They should frequently meet online to discuss progress and results. We recommend ZOOM as a tool for videoconferencing.
Social check-ins are advised daily at a certain time to be agreed by teams – this can be a 15 to 30 minute team check in to chat about topics outside of your work remit.
We shall be using the following tools to communicate only:
Zoom – for video conferencing and calls
Whatapp – for instant messaging
Email – For written communication
Mobile phone calls when other options unavailable
Over-communication is encouraged during this time
All meetings will adhere to strict time limits
All meetings must have an agenda and be followed up with written record on our system – one person in the meeting will be nominated as note taker
Meetings on ZOOM to be recorded – this is particularly important when team members cannot make meeting so if any decisions are made, there is a record of same.
Teams will work together with managers to design metrics and deliverables so that managers can measure results
Compliance with Policies
Remote employees must follow our company’s policies as before. Examples of policies that all employees should abide by are:
Data Protection in line with GDPR
Code of Conduct
Diversity and Inclusion
Dress code when meeting with clients online
Compensation and benefits
Compensation is determined by your current position. Compensation may be reduced in the case of reduced hours.
We will provide our remote employees with equipment that is essential to their job duties, like laptops, headsets and cell phones (when applicable.) We will install VPN and company-required software when employees receive their equipment. We will not provide secondary equipment (e.g. printers and screens.)
Equipment that we provide is company property. Employees must keep it safe and avoid any misuse. Specifically, employees must:
- Keep their equipment password protected.
- Store equipment in a safe and clean space when not in use.
- Follow all data encryption, protection standards and settings.
- Refrain from downloading suspicious, unauthorized or illegal software.
We will require to see a copy of your Home insurance to determine if you are adequately insured in your own home.
Please feel free to contact me if you feel I have left anything out and/or you have any other suggestions.