A remote work policy is a work agreement between an employee and an employer that outlines the duties, expectations, and procedures involved in a remote work arrangement.
What’s in a remote work policy?
When drafting a remote work policy for your company, you need to think about all aspects of work performance, even those you wouldn't consider significant in a traditional office. Common terms and clauses included in a remote work policy include:
Remote work eligibility
Your remote working policy should begin by defining which positions are eligible to work remotely. If the company is not fully remote, the human resources department will need to analyze the organizational structure and determine which employees can telework and how often.
Remote work authorization
If remote work is optional, outline how employees should submit a request for remote work and if they should specify whether they wish to telecommute full-time or part-time. This request needs to be approved, which brings us to the next step: authorization. Make sure to document who approves remote work requests and the procedures involved.
Work expectation management
Whether your remote team sticks to the nine to five schedule or has flexible hours, ensure their availability and working hours are highlighted in the remote work agreement.
Apart from work hours, the policy should contain the expected outcome (performance metrics) of your employees' work and responsibilities. Emphasize any changes that may affect particular positions and their workload, set guidelines for attendance, and give instructions on communication processes for work expectation management.
Worker's compensation and benefits
A professional remote work policy contains information on the base salary and any other perks or expenses that remote workers (or their family members) are entitled to. Paid time off, sick leave, health insurance, 401k, and other contributions need to be specified clearly, especially if you are a part of a hybrid company.
Some remote companies offer enticing perks, such as unlimited vacation days or donation matching. Others have education and training budgets for their teams. If your company provides any additional benefits, even on a case-by-case basis, make sure to list them in the company policy with all their limitations and use conditions.
Work and wellness expenses
Your remote workers save a lot of energy and time on commuting, but they do have expenses and needs, even when working from home. Consider each remote worker's position and think of ways to make them more productive and satisfied. Can you offer a monthly allowance for their wellbeing and health, such as a gym membership or a yoga class?
Include all budgets or reimbursement options, their limitations, and procedures for approval in the policy.
Rightful termination is a standard part of most company policies. It covers the basis for termination and the procedures related to it. However, a remote employee policy should contain a clause stating that employees cannot be terminated based on their decision to work remotely.
This simple inclusion prevents managers from treating remote workers differently than office-based workers due to the lack of in-person contact. The rightful termination clause should also cover how remote employees return company equipment if their position is terminated or they leave the company.
Compliance with company policies
Whether they work remotely or not, all employees have to comply with rules and company policies, such as the Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics. If your company has an Anti Discrimination or Equal Opportunity policy, your remote employees should abide by it and benefit from it.
The remote work policy should also clearly state equal opportunities for your remote workers. Since telecommuters can't be "seen" in the same way as office staff, they can easily be overlooked for promotions and bonuses.
Safety and security
An exemplary remote work policy should address the insurance and liability related to employee safety and security. The company can require remote members' workspaces to be vetted and approved or offer guidelines on creating a safe workspace at home. Either way, procedures, rules, and coverage for work-related injuries need to be specified in the remote work policy.
Another thing you should consider including in your remote work policy is a cybersecurity section. If your employees are using personal equipment or mobile devices, have your IT department outline the best practices and software that should be implemented.
Measuring productivity for remote work
The rise of flexible work environments made it possible to measure the outcomes of someone's work instead of the number of hours they spent sitting at the desk. Your policy should include your remote worker’s responsibilities and tasks as well as productivity and performance metrics.
Communication protocols and responsiveness policy
Share communication protocols that explain what information should be communicated through which channels when working remotely. Such protocols will ensure nothing gets lost in the email inbox when it should have been sent via a messaging app such as Slack, and vice versa.
You should also define how quickly someone needs to reply to a coworker or supervisor, and how to communicate when you’re away from your desk for an extended period of time. These protocols help mitigate communication issues and remove the need for unnecessary meetings.
Most people don't actively think about how working remotely can lead to breaching confidentiality agreements, which is why it's essential to cover this topic in writing.
When employees work outside of the office, sensitive information needs outstanding safeguarding. Identify risky situations—such as conducting a client meeting via Zoom while in a coffee shop or discussing confidential information in other people's presence—and what to do instead.
Data protection for remote work
Your policy should include terms that keep your company’s data safe, such as using two-factor authentication, not using public Wi-Fi networks, and mandatory training on how to avoid phishing attempts. Define who needs to use a VPN and make sure all employees adhere to encryption best practices. Finally, define which software the company will provide to help remote workers safeguard sensitive information.
Equipment and tech support
Determine the equipment needs of your remote team and see if the company needs to allocate a budget for a home office setup. Next, outline the obligations for maintaining and repairing broken equipment.
Finally, don't forget the technical difficulties that happen to all of us sometimes. If your company offers designated tech support staff for remote workers, list their names, contacts, and work hours in the remote work policy.
How to implement a remote work policy
After you’ve established all the rules and procedures surrounding remote work, you can implement the remote work policy. Keep a digital version of your company’s policy somewhere easily accessible for all employees, such as a shared Notion document, Google Drive folder, or pinned in a Slack channel. Include the policy in your employee onboarding process and have all remote employees sign the policy as an acknowledgment and agreement of its contents.
If you want to align your remote team on topics like attendance and time-tracking, you can use Deel’s Remote Employee Attendance and Time Tracking Policy Template.