Four Tips for Getting your Remote Work Policies Right

In the past five years, the number of organizations that offer flexible or completely remote work options have risen by 40 per cent

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By Phillipa Rust


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Organizations around the world are responding to the growing demand for flexible work environments by providing more remote work options. In fact, the number of organizations that offer flexible or completely remote work options increased by 40 per cent over the past five years.

Leading a growing remote team presents unique opportunities and challenges. But one thing that all companies need to learn is the importance of having clear policies to manage, motivate, and keep remote team members happy.

Defining the most important policies your remote team should follow is crucial for success. There is no right or wrong way to create remote work policies, as each organization's size and needs can vary. However, there are a few key points, which managers should address when developing a remote work policy for their organization.

Availability expectations

Whether you prefer to set strict business hours or to allow your team members to set their own schedules, be sure to state it clearly in your remote work policy. Not only does this help everyone adhere to the same guidelines, but it also helps reduce confusion about expectations.

Of course, official business hours will vary from person to person depending upon location, but you should be able to define the hours per day or week each person is expected to be available.

For global teams, it also may be important to have team members available in every country or time zone where you have customers. In this case, outline how you will stagger schedules so that a team member is always available. It can also help to define an official company time zone that everyone can use for scheduling purposes.

List your team tools

Almost every remote team uses a combination of email, document management, and chat platforms to communicate and collaborate. As your team grows, it's likely that your organization's set of tools will grow as well.

While it may seem obvious to tell your team members to use Google Docs to create files or Slack to communicate, listing these tools in your remote work policy is a good way to ensure everyone knows the best way to exchange information and the protocols for contacting other team members. Consider listing which tools your organization uses:

  • Video calls/conferences (Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.)

  • Instant messaging/private chats (Slack, etc.)

  • Project management (Asana, Trello, Basecamp, etc.)

  • Document management (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.)

  • HR/payments

  • Employee recognition and rewards

Clear lines of communication are vital for remote teams. If your team has daily or weekly meetings, then it's also important to define which tools they should have for successful calls or video conferencing. Consider including camera and headphone recommendations in your remote work policy to ensure everyone has a quality connection.

Data and information management

It's easy to overlook security measures and trust that your team will be responsible with sensitive or confidential information. However, it's important to clearly outline your data protection expectations to keep your organization and customers safe.

The level of access to company data or customer information will likely vary depending on each remote team member; however, there are a few simple requirements you can include in your remote work policy to prevent security issues. For instance, you can request that your remote team members use a secure Internet connection, avoid public wireless hotspots, and use strong passwords.

Measuring productivity

For those managing a partially or entirely remote team, it can be challenging to measure productivity. However, there are a few ways to measure the performance of remote workers, depending on the job. If a team member is responsible for bringing in a certain level of leads or sales, then it's easy to evaluate their performance. But if a remote team member's responsibilities aren't so easy to quantify, then a weekly check-in may be necessary. Managers should establish clear, measurable goals for each employee to easily see performance levels.

Regardless of the key performance indicators your team chooses to use, how you plan to measure team productivity should be clearly defined in your remote work policy so that everyone understands how to work towards specific goals.

For growing teams made up of entirely remote workers, it's important to have policies and best practices in writing, share them with each new hire, and update them on a regular basis. Not only does this help everyone stay connected and in-the-know, but it can also help improve team performance over time.

Phillipa Rust

Director at The Intern Group (Australia)


Phillipa is the Director of The Intern Group's Australia division. The Intern Group provides international internship programs with the purpose to inspire and encourage people to believe in and challenge themselves, discover their passion and realize their potential.


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