Maintaining Legal Policies While Employees Are Working at Home
Working remotely is an increasingly growing trend in the current work environment, where employees can sign in from anywhere. While some companies consider remote work regularly, others have completely adopted this working model, especially following the recent coronavirus pandemic. Regardless, businesses should develop legal work from home policies that streamline this new working method.
Remote work policies are simply agreements between employers and employees who prefer working from home. It defines the responsibilities, eligibility, and expectations from both parties. The guide below provides insights on how to maintain legal policies with your remote workers.
- Have a Clear Purpose
Remote work brings several benefits to businesses and employees alike. However, to achieve these benefits, your work from home policy should have a clear purpose or intent. Clearly describe the intention of the policy and what you aim to achieve by allowing employees to work from home. Generally, the policy should improve your employees' value proposition, improve your workforce's productivity and experience.
- Define Remote Work Scope and Eligibility
The policy should outline the various positions available for remote work in your business. This should consider software limitations, eminent cybersecurity risks, and upcoming responsibilities. Stating the scope and eligibility eliminates unnecessary remote work requests from members who are not eligible.
You should clearly evaluate various aspects of your business before proceeding with remote work. This includes the nature of job descriptions, privacy issues, communication, and conditions in every employee's home. Based on this, you can evaluate if the employee can be allowed to work from home on a full-time basis or only during specific occasions.
Some of the things to consider when evaluating employee eligibility include;
- Chronic illness
- Common commuter delays
- Harsh weather conditions
- Personal emergencies
- Work-life balance
- Pressing parenting responsibilities
- Appointments during workday
- Request and Approval Process
Legal work from home policy should also outline how eligible employees can request for this working model. Clearly indicate if they require a formal submission or a simple, informal request is enough for one to be allowed to work remotely. Besides, should employees apply for consideration before submitting a request? The policy should outline a procedural breakdown of all the steps to be followed by employees who want to work from home.
Closely associated with the request process is the approval process. Indicate in the policy the person who will approve all requests and review pointers. Be it hiring managers or departmental managers, emphasize the importance of evaluating all employees individually before rejecting or approving requests.
You should also consider providing admissible work from home days in your organization. For instance, you can indicate that you provide monthly work from home Mondays where employees can optionally work from home. Also, state if there are certain days of the week that remote working is not permissible.
- Communication, Availability, and Responsiveness Expectations
Your policy should ensure that your business runs smoothly throughout. Employees working remotely due to parenting, work-life balance, or illnesses may have divided attention between home factors and work responsibilities. Therefore, outline various guiding parameters that contribute to business success.
As for the availability, clearly state the times when remote employees should be online. Provide clear expectations so that remote employees can schedule their personal matters properly. A good work from home policy should also specify how the productivity of remote workers will be evaluated. This can be through the time spent on projects, the number of clients handled, cases solved, and any other parameter.
- Technology Support Requirements
In most cases, employees willing to work from home should have access to various equipment and tech support, such as personal computers, software, and the internet, before being approved to work remotely. Therefore, within your policy, outline the prerequisites for willing employees to plan their tech needs in advance.
The policy should also outline the response procedures for employees facing technical difficulties while working remotely. This helps in streamlining your work from home model.
- Security Requirements
Remote working has exposed various businesses and companies to cybersecurity risks. Therefore, you should outline security expectations from your employees to mitigate data breaches and other cybersecurity challenges. Among the expectations include warning remote workers from working over public WIFIs or connecting to the company network in public settings. You should also provide additional security measures, such as Virtual Private Network, to protect your systems.
The policy should also highlight how employees should handle client-facing roles. For instance, should they call clients from private numbers? Can they work in public places where private information can leak? Will they be reimbursed for work-related data/voice call charges? These are just but a few causes of discourse between employers and remote employees. If this policy is unclear for remote workers, you might need to engage an employment lawyer.
The points above touch on the most critical issues that should be addressed by work from home policies. All along, stress the importance of clear communication, reliability, and train your remote employees for increased chances of success.