5 Tips to Create Formal Remote Work Policies
With more and more big company names like Dell, UnitedHealth Group, American Express, IBM, and even Apple offering remote work options, it can cause any landlocked organization to consider implementing flexible work policies. But if your company’s roots are, well, deeply rooted in one geographic location, it can seem a little insurmountable to suddenly let your staff work from anywhere they want.
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If you want to keep up with the business Joneses, though, it makes sense to see how flexible work can benefit your business and start working on a flexible work policy.

If you need some help getting started, here are five tips for creating formal remote work policies—and ensuring that your remote work policy doesn’t fall short.

5 Tips to Create Formal Remote Work Policies

1. Determine which jobs can be done remotely.

In order to get a lay of the land—and then get everyone up on the cloud and telecommuting—it makes sense to see which jobs can be done from home. This might be one of the most time-consuming steps, but it’s an important one.

Gather your team of senior-level managers and have them go through each and every one of their employees’ jobs to see which ones can be done remotely and which ones might need to be tweaked in order to be more flex friendly.

You might find that your company will have to adopt new practices, programs, and workflows in order to achieve the same results that were done in-office, but you’ll also experience one of the biggest benefits of a remote workforce—improved productivity.

2. Figure out how to prevent leaks.

Data leakage is no joke to a company of any size, and it can possibly happen if you don’t prepare for it.

Toyota recently adopted a remote work policy and also went through a similar preparedness process. They said: “To prevent any kind of data leakage, the company will allocate employees computers that will only function as client terminals to a cloud computing system.”

Other ways to prevent data loss is to ensure that a formal flexible work program is in place, set rules for handling the data, and make sure that your staff understands their duties in keeping the data safe.

3. Survey your current workers.

Sure, you know that flexible work would suit your company’s bottom line and bring in many advantages (i.e., cost savings, being able to attract top talent, reducing employee turnover, etc). But what about what it means to your workers?

Before you start drafting a remote work policy, it’s a smart business move to talk to your current workers about their own needs. Have them explain their experiences working for the company so you understand where the pain points are.

Maybe the communications tools offered to them are lackluster, or they might need better computers in order to work more effectively. By meeting with them, you’ll discover what can make your business run more efficiently and therefore create a stronger remote work policy based on their work experiences.

4. Check out the competition.

Of course, you’re not in the, um, business of spying on your competition, but in the case of implementing flexible work policies, it certainly can’t hurt.

In fact, knowing how many of your competitors offer flexible work options can spark some ideas for how your company can craft its own remote work policy. Look on their websites’ company pages, social media channels, and in their job descriptions to see how and when they offer flexible work—and how it impacts their company.

5. Do a soft run.

Once you’ve gathered all your intel on how to make your remote policy work, it’s time to put it to the test. But if you’ve been a brick-and-mortar biz since inception, there are bound to be bumps in the road to allowing your employees to work from home.

That’s why you need to do a soft run for your current employees who are used to working in a traditional office space. After all, you can’t expect everyone to know immediately how to use video conferencing tools and how to manage the challenges that come with working remotely (i.e., self-managing and being disciplined to work when you really want to curl up on the couch and watch TV instead).

So do a dry run for a week or two at a time to give your formerly office-bound workers a chance to adapt themselves to this new—and wonderful—way of working. Offer extra training sessions so they feel more prepared and be prepared yourself to help out during the transition.

Creating a formal work policy doesn’t have to be as formidable as it might seem. Once your company has signed on to the idea of flexible work, it will take time to make a remote work policy work for your company. But once it does, you’ll see an immediate improvement in terms of employee productivity, happiness levels, better communication, increased savings for the company, the ability to hire better workers, and being able to build better teams…and the benefits just go on and on from there.

Readers, are your companies currently creating a remote work policies for your employees? When do you expect to launch it and what learning curves have you experienced? Let us know in the comments below!

By Jennifer Parris | September 12, 2016 

Jane Gonzalez
Associate Editor