Working remotely is becoming increasingly common. Thirty-seven percent of Americans telecommuted in 2015, a Gallup poll found. By 2020, 50 percent of Americans are expected work from home. Offering remote work options can help companies attract and retain top talent. But successfully implementing a remote worker policy takes some adjusting to maintain clear workplace policies and procedures while still allowing employees the autonomy and flexibility they desire. Here are four steps for implementing an effective remote work policy.
Define the Scope of Your Remote Work Policy
For legal and liability reasons, it’s important to have your human resources department design a clear and consistent remote work policy, says HR outsourcing provider Insperity. Some positions may lend themselves to remote work more easily than others, so to be consistent, you should clearly define what positions are eligible for remote work options. You should also specify whether the position is remote-only or involves a combination of in-office and remote work, as well as whether hours are fixed or flexible.
Create policies for how to handle key hiring and managerial issues, such as whether new remote workers will be subject to a trial period. Design a process for requesting, reviewing and approving remote work requests from employees. Think through any potential liability issues, such as whether an extended workday will qualify for overtime, for example.
Establish Your BYOD Policy
Employee devices are likely to figure into any remote work policy, which can raise security issues, making BYOD guidelines an important component of your overall policy. CIO contributor Jonathan Hassell says the foundation of a good BYOD policy is defining which devices are permitted. For instance, will you require devices with the latest security features such as the iPhone 7 Plus with fingerprint scanning, or are passcode-protected devices sufficient?
Regardless of which devices you allow, you should establish strict security policies that apply to all devices, such as password length requirements, what apps will be allowed and what apps will be banned. You should also define which apps and data are owned by your company and whether devices should have a partition between company and personal data. Your BYOD policy should further include a statement about which support updates will be provided by your company. Don’t forget to include an exit policy defining how to handle devices and data when an employee leaves your company.
Set up Your Communications and Project Management Platforms
Communication and project management are essential for any effective remote worker strategy. You should decide whether your management and your remote team will communicate through traditional tools such as email or newer tools such as Slack and Skype.
You will also need to decide what project management platform to use for assigning work and supervising progress. Some project management platforms allow you to set deadlines without tracking the hours your employees clock, while others include time-tracking mechanisms. Inc. provides an overview of some of today’s top remote work project management options, which include Asana, Basecamp and When I Work.
Set up Your Payroll Procedures
How you handle payroll remotely is another vital consideration. Tax planning is one part of the equation. SBA contributor Barbara Weltman advises that companies employing remote workers should use tax experts or outside payroll specialists due to the complexity of issues associated with remote income tax withholding and employee reporting.
Another element is your mechanism for distributing payments. Options include payment processing services such as PayPal, bank transfer direct deposits, traditional payroll services and enterprise-oriented solutions such as Payoneer and Transpay. Differences between these alternatives include global acceptance range, transfer and conversion fees and ease of use for senders and receivers. Hubstaff contributor Andy Baldacci provides an overview of these various options and their pros and cons.