In a PwC survey of 120 US executives, 83% said: "the shift to remote work has been successful for their company." On the other hand, only 5% of those executives believe they can maintain company culture with a fully remote workforce.
But how can remote work be successful if it impedes maintaining company culture?
Answer: It’s a trick question. It doesn't have to be one or the other.
You can take the benefits of remote work—flexibility, efficiency, etc.—and still retain the benefits of in-person work. In short, there is a middle way.
But to walk that middle way, you need a roadmap. You need a remote work policy.
So in this post, we'll start with the basics: what a remote work policy is and why you need one. Then we'll get into the steps required to create and implement a remote work policy.
To wrap things up, we'll share a remote work policy template that you can adapt for your own organization.
What is a Remote Work Policy?
A remote work policy spells out your company's rules for remote working. This could include, but isn't limited to, rules governing:
- Who is eligible for remote work
- How much remote work will be allowed
- Professional expectations for remote workers
- Home work station equipment requirements and allowances
- Network security
- Time tracking (for hourly workers)
In short, a remote work policy spells out guidelines for employees who work from any location other than a company office. The policy's goal is to maximize the benefits of remote work for the company and employees.
Why You Need a Remote Work Policy
There are both strategic and logistical reasons you need a remote work policy. In the next two subsections, we'll cover both these categories.
Remote Work as a Competitive Advantage
Remote work policies fall under the purview of human resources. But the strategic impact of these policies is company-wide.
In fact, for some organizations, such as InVision, GitLab, Synchrony, or Atlassian, successfully enabling remote work is a key competitive advantage. Yet InVision and GitLab are fully remote, while Synchrony and Atlassian are testing a hybrid model.
In short, these companies press the advantages of remote work in different ways.
The key for your organization is to understand where and how you can (and can't) press the advantages of remote work.
Among other things, a few advantages and benefits remote work provides include:
- Reduced real estate costs (i.e. office rent)
- Expanded access to a larger pool of talented workers
- Eliminated or greatly reduced commute times
- Improved ability to attract and retain talent
- Enhanced employee productivity, well-being, and freedom
Once you've done the legwork to determine how remote work best fits at your company, you need the policy to codify your findings.
Planning Your Transition to Hybrid or Remote Work
There was no planning for the transition to remote work caused by Covid-19. But sometime in the future, the virus will stop dictating terms. So there’s time to plan.
And according to Nicki Bellington, Atlassian’s head of talent programs, “[Remote work] is not like a light switch. We want to crawl and walk and then see how far we run.”
Both the process of creating your policy, and the document itself, will help you and your employees start to crawl, walk, and then run with remote work.
How to Create and Roll Out a Remote Work Policy
Creating a remote work policy requires detailed assessments of your team(s). You must determine:
- Which roles are suited for fully or partially remote work
- Which teams are ready to incorporate remote employees
- Training, resources, employee allowances, and tools required to enable remote work
- Security and communications rules required to enable remote work
- Potential legal issues associated with remote work
- How performance measurement will be changed (or not) for remote workers
Once you’ve made these determinations, you can use the remote work policy template below to document your policy.
Rolling out your policy isn’t quite as black and white. How you roll out depends on the size of your company, internal perceptions about remote work, and so much more.
Atlassian started their adoption of remote work by adding fully remote positions to existing teams. Synchrony began by piloting hybrid and fully remote teams. And still others may start by simply soliciting volunteers to work in a remote or hybrid model.
However you decide to roll out remote work, you should be thinking about establishing new norms. The chart below shows various operational considerations and examples of each to help you think about what new norms might need to be established.
Remote Work Policy Template
The sample remote work policy you see below is from Betterteam. You can use this sample as a template from which you can create your own remote work policy.
Empower Your Organization’s Move to Remote Work
Like we said, remote work impacts your entire organization. And even though the promise of remote work is compelling, implementing a new work model requires addressing and learning about new challenges.
If you’re looking for more resources to broaden your remote work horizons, check out a few of the other posts we’ve written about remote work productivity: