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2019_04_Remote_Work_Blog

TPD HR Tips: Preparing Your Policies for Remote Workers

Apr 22, 2019 9:00:00 AM
By TPD

2019_04_Remote_Work_Blog_v3(resized)

We may be in the midst of April showers, but freshening up your employee policies is one great way to ensure there will be plenty of May flowers. So far this spring, we’ve looked at the importance of updating employee leave policies, and the role #MeToo has played in shaping bullying and harassment procedures in the workplace.

The latest in our series of springtime HR tips focuses on a growing trend that’s been sprouting up across the Canadian employment landscape: working remotely.

Read on to learn more about why this trend has gained so much momentum, and discover some of the steps you can take to ensure your business has solid remote work policies and processes in place.

Tip #3: Prepare Your Policies for Remote Workers

The ability to work remotely is helping Canadians redefine the meaning of the workplace. In recent years, there has been a decided shift away from the more traditional “nine to five” type of job, in favour of more flexible arrangements that allow for greater work-life balance.

And, as this type of work arrangement continues to evolve, it’s essential for companies to ensure that their policies clearly outline the expectations and goals around remote working.

Why Implement Remote Work Policies?

The simple answer is that the ability to work remotely is becoming increasingly important to Canadian workers. According to a 2018 survey, 47% of employees who worked at a company that did not offer an option to work remotely report feeling frustrated, so much so that 33% of those surveyed said they have considered looking for a job at a place that does offer this option. 60% of new job seekers also rank remote work as either important or very important, which suggests that companies offering more flexible scheduling options may be a more attractive choice.

Employers are adapting to and embracing this shift, with encouraging results.

A 2018 survey of 500 Canadian employers showed that 62% offered their employees the option to work remotely. Impressively, 96% of companies with a remote work policy say that there was no negative impact on productivity, and 65% believe that it has actually helped to increase productivity.

According to this study, employees who work remotely have noted significant benefits as well, with 80% reporting an improved work-life balance. In addition, 65% believe it has reduced stress, 60% say that they’ve taken fewer sick days, and 56% report that it has improved company morale.

How to Create Effective Remote Work Policies

It’s clear that there are many advantages to offering employees the option to work remotely. However, though there is a plethora of information regarding remote work best practices, many companies don’t actually have an official policy in place. So if your business doesn’t yet have one, you’re not alone. Here are a few things you’ll need to consider when creating effective remote work policies:

Eligibility

The first step is clearly defining who is eligible to work remotely.

To avoid being discriminatory, it’s essential that employees clearly understand the criteria that need to be met in order to be able to exercise this option. It’s especially important to consider the needs of the position, the expectations around employee availability, and to provide guidance on how and when deadlines are to be met.

Offering a remote work policy allows companies to tap into a wider talent pool, so even during the hiring process, it’s important to disclose how remote work will fit into the overall employment experience and company culture. Doing so can help determine an employee’s potential eligibility early on.

Equipment

It’s essential for remote employees to have the necessary tools to perform their duties. Employers will need to consider whether they will provide these tools directly, or simply establish a list of requirements for devices, software, and security protocols for remote employees to follow.

And while the prospect of being able to work from anywhere is certainly attractive, doing so has the potential to introduce cybersecurity risks. Remote employees may choose to work in locations with unsecured, public networks, so it’s crucial to ensure all devices have sufficient password protection and encryption capabilities.

Enforcement

Ideally, all employees will be respectful, accountable, and productive while working remotely. However, it’s also important to ensure that employees understand that the ability to work remotely is a privilege that may be revoked if it’s found that they’re not meeting expectations or deadlines. Creating clear guidelines and goals, and explicitly outlining consequences will help your remote team members function effectively and confidently in a virtual workplace.

Want to learn more about creating and implementing remote work policies in your organization? The TPD HR team can help you effectively navigate this changing landscape, and ensure that your policies are aligned with the needs of both your business, and your remote employees. Contact us to discuss your remote work policy.

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