Create a clear, effective remote work policy for your team. Free Company Organizational Startup Task List / Checklist / Guide Template.
Create a clear, effective remote work policy for your team.
The “9 to 5” culture has faced strong opposition since the 1990s, but the global shift to remote work might be its biggest disruption yet. With remote work becoming the new normal, your team needs a clear and well-communicated remote work policy that’ll help them adapt.
A remote work policy is a document that includes guidelines and best practices for your team to follow when they’re working remotely. It sets clear expectations on communication, collaboration, and performance that ensure everyone paddles in the same direction.
A remote work policy must define working hours, team collaboration etiquette, communication requirements, and work monitoring guidelines. A clear and well-defined remote work policy helps existing and new employees understand their role in the team.
Here are all the elements you should include in your remote work policy:
Do you expect your team to be available during set hours or are you open to a more flexible schedule? Either way, you have to define those expectations from day one.
Even if you don’t require your team to be available within a specific time window, it’s best to put that in writing. Just to make sure there are no misunderstandings down the road.
Does the dress code apply? Are team members expected to participate in virtual team-building activities? Your remote work policy should elaborate on all that.
You can go a step further and decide if team members are required to turn on their cameras during meetings. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s better to discuss everything early on.
Your team can’t do their job without proper equipment. Hardware and software like notebooks and smartphones should come with start-up instructions and maintenance guidelines.
Do you allow employees to use personal smartphones for work calls? How will users get help if they run into tech issues? What types of software can be installed on company devices?
Make sure all devices come equipped with security measures to protect company data and infrastructure. Security guidelines should also be part of your remote work policy.
One of the challenges of remote work is effective communication. In a traditional office, you can ask questions and get answers right away. But in a distributed team, it’s not always that simple.
Your remote work agreement should discuss the use of communication channels, define communication frequency, and include communication etiquette.
How will you monitor work performance? Which project management software will the team use? How often should you receive status updates from the team?
Your remote work policy must address those questions clearly to make sure that no project falls through. Set expectations early on to help your team build momentum.
The best remote teams cultivate a culture of trust and transparency. That’s why you should document everything and make your remote work policy available to everyone.
Give all team members a chance to read the document and ask questions before they sign it. Make sure to address and discuss any contentious points.
Set up a feedback system where your team will share their observations and concerns. Remember, a remote work policy is a mutual agreement and you should treat it as such.
Empower your team to communicate whenever they want to introduce changes to the document. They know best what will help them be more productive.
While a remote work agreement is a formal document, it’s not set in stone. You should always discuss potential additions with the team, and if possible, collaborate on the policy.
A clearly-defined workplace policy helps everyone get aligned with expectations in a remote-first setting. It aims to foster trust and open communication required for effective collaboration.
Effective communication plays a key role in keeping teams together. But nurturing conversations in a traditional office is completely different from building rapport in a remote workplace.
Here’s how you can overcome the time/space barrier:
If possible, schedule at least one face-to-face meetup every quarter. This will help the team warm up to each other and improve productivity and communication down the road.
If in-person meetings are not possible for everyone, encourage workers living in the same area to meet up and interact with each other as often as possible.
Technological advancements like high-quality video conferencing help foster collaboration despite physical distance. Make the most of those tools to help your team thrive.
Consider scheduling regular video sync-ups to nurture social interactions. Provide opportunities for the team members to bounce off ideas and get feedback from each other.
Work isolation is still an obstacle for many remote-first teams. The good news is you can make up for limited social interactions by creating opportunities for meaningful conversations.
Set aside a few minutes before each meeting for conversations on non-work related topics. Invite team members for virtual coffee breaks and organize after-work game nights.