Mobile devices and cloud applications have made remote jobs famously convenient, especially in the IT industry. Anyone with internet access would be able to deliver results regardless of geographic location and timezone. Many businesses are adapting to this practice to cut on costs, acquire better skills offshore, or to test foreign locations prior to physically migrating the business.
This emerging business practice, however, may result in an “‘Uber-ization’ of the workforce,” since many would eventually prefer working remotely, according to 451 Research senior analyst, Raul Castañon-Martinez.
What is remote work?
Remote work — sometimes known as telecommuting — is when an employee fulfills his or her responsibilities regardless of physical or geographic location. Some workers or teams do this full time or part time. Some use it only under specific circumstances, and countless companies work with freelancers or their agencies remotely.
Companies that focus on remote work as their business model are known as remote-first work or remote-first companies, where the thrust of all business decisions is based on the core of the remote work dynamic.
Companies that are not remote-first are known as “remote-friendly,” where employees have an actual office space but are allowed to do remote work from time to time.
According to one of Ghana’s leading online job portals, remote work results in higher productivity since the best talents are hired from across the globe. This partnership could not be made possible without a clear policy in place.
Here are some guidelines to jumpstart your remote work policy:
Gartner analyst Carol Rozwell explains that companies looking at utilizing remote work should first determine which posts qualify for remote work. Rozwell also points out that location does become irrelevant. “If I’m on the phone with you right now, it doesn’t matter where I’m phoning from, it doesn’t matter where you phoned me, right?”
Positions that do not or cannot be conducted remotely must be stated in your remote work policy for it to prevent wasting time on future inquiries or requests.
An employee’s expected availability must be stated in the policy. This is especially important where timezones differ. If employees have the privilege to choose their shifts or are expected to stick to a fixed schedule, then it must be agreed upon by both parties at the onset.
Expectations on response times and the modes of communication are highly recommended, Castañon-Martinez said. Proper communication promotes healthy working relationships since no one is left in the dark. Expectations regarding responsiveness can be easily communicated and set via human resources management systems.
4. Productivity measurements
Measuring an employee's productivity is vital and can be done in many ways — time spent on a project, number of cases resolved, or client transactions — to name a few.
"The key thing is to make sure that you can measure outcomes of work, as opposed to something like the number of hours," Rozwell said. “So, if you can measure the outcomes after somebody performs the work remotely, and you got the desired result, then that's a better situation than trying to measure people on number of hours."
Remote-first and remote-friendly companies need to specify whether or not they can provide equipment such as laptops or mobile devices. If not, applicants and employees must be told as soon as possible so they can purchase their own. Remote workers must also comply with internet speed requirements before commencing work.
6. Tech support
Another decision that needs to be made early on is whether or not remote employees will have access to tech support. Usually, it’s a good idea to provide at least basic troubleshooting since almost all their work depends on functioning IT.
Information security is a huge challenge with remote work since it’s so hard to protect data that ventures outside of the safety of your organization’s walls. Workers need to be extra careful when working in public places, Rozwell noted. If companies specifically instruct employees not to use public Wi-Fi, then it should be in the policy.
8. Client confidentiality
Client confidentiality must also be emphasized in a remote work policy since information security is more manageable in a protected workspace. Business calls made in public places must be conducted with discretion, unless not specified in a policy.
Smarter remote-first companies invest in tapping Information Security providers to ensure that cybersecurity and client confidentiality are monitored with precise expertise.
Regardless of how you conduct your remote work operations, having an established remote work policy sets the proper expectations of both employees and employers. In the long run, a well-drafted policy creates understanding and seamless transactions between yourself and your employees.
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