9 out of 10 companies are transitioning to a hybrid work from home model according to a McKinsey survey (and this was back in 2021).
But at the same, the survey points out that most of the same companies don’t have the specifics set in place for carrying out this massive shift. They don’t have a clear strategy with supporting processes and documentation.
In short, they don’t have a standardized remote work policy yet. Which leads to employees feeling anxious.
What about you?
Is your organization transitioning or already adapting to a remote or hybrid work from home model?
Then, if you want to make sure it is a success for everyone, you’ll need to design and document your own work from home policy. One that offers clear guidelines to your remote workers and helps them vet your company as a remote workplace.
How do you put it together? Where do you start?
In this article, you will:
- find out what a remote work policy is;
- discover the key reasons why you’ll want to consider one for your company;
- get actionable tips on how to design yours.
What Is a Remote, Flexible, or Hybrid Work Policy?
A remote, flexible, or hybrid work policy is an agreement between you and your staff that outlines when, where, and how the employees should work off-site. In short, it outlines their responsibilities and your expectations towards them.
It’s an employee handbook if you wish. One that sets clear expectations, describes best practices around how employees should work, and sets the legal rights for both remote workers and those with a hybrid work schedule.
Now, let’s take a look at each of these 3 types of work policies.
Hybrid Work Policy
A hybrid work policy documents the work and communication expectations, as well as the technology to be used for both off-site and on-site employees.
This way, your staff — whether they’re employees working from the office or remotely — has clear guidelines on how to store the data to keep it safe. And when exactly they’re expected to respond to others.
Flexible Work Policy
A flexible work from home policy sets the core office hours and the specific days when remote employees are expected to be available within those time intervals.
And this type of work from home policy can be further customized and adapted to each department's needs or office location’s particularities.
Remote Work Policy
A remote work policy sets all the expectations for employees working remotely.
It can document aspects like:
- expected work hours;
- how remote staff should collaborate, communicate, or record decisions;
- requirements related to the accepted ways of storing company data;
- legal rights.
A bit overwhelmed by all the aspects that your remote working policy you should include?
No need to be: our remote work policy template gives you the solid wireframe you need to drive away the fear of starting from scratch or of leaving out something important.
Why Your Company Needs a Hybrid or Remote Work Policy
Because it helps you boost productivity among your employees. As simple as that.
When they know exactly what’s expected of them:
- They’re more focused.
- They’re on the same page with their team members.
- They get a better work-life balance, avoiding the burnout linked to flexible working.
- They’re more productive: they no longer need to figure out logistical issues themselves.
Or maybe you’re looking for more specific reasons why you’ll want to design a remote working policy and consider using a work from home policy template for this:
- It helps you mitigate risk: Think of risks like payroll withholding or permanent establishment. If you have your remote work policy set in place, with both legal rights and responsibilities clearly documented, it’ll be easier for you to mitigate this type of risk.
- It supports your business goals: How? Just think about it: if you’re planning to go fully remote or to make your hybrid model of work permanent, having this policy, with all its guidelines, lets your employees know about your company’s future plans. So they can comply with your expectations and help you get there.
- It provides clarity to your current and future employees: And this is the key reason why you’ll want to consider having a remote work policy set in place in your company. It helps all stakeholders involved (finance, IT department, human resources, etc.) know what is and is not allowed, what’s expected of them, and how the payout and benefits are impacted.
- It helps you scale your remote model of work: Maybe you’re experimenting with a remote model of work on just a small segment of your staff. But with a policy in place, it’ll be easier for you to scale your model of work: onboarding employees will already have their “employee handbook” to go through and comply with.
And last, but surely not least: by implementing a hybrid or remote work policy in your organization you promote a healthy work culture.
How to Create a Remote Work Policy
Define Eligible Positions and Employees
Are you running a hybrid model of work in your company? If so, which roles can work remotely, and which ones need to perform on-site?
Or maybe you’ve gone entirely remote. If so, do your employees still need to live in the same city where your offices are located? Or can they live in another country?
Can all employees, no matter their seniority, work off-site? Or maybe only those who’ve been with you for at least… 6 months, let’s say?
And these are just some of the questions you’ll want to have clear answers to when designing your work from home policy.
Define the eligibility criteria for those employees or specific roles in your company who are allowed to work remotely.
And make sure to document all the roles (like client-facing ones, for instance) and to describe the specific situations when remote work is not allowed in your organization.
Determine How Employees Will Be Expected to Work and Communicate at Your Organization
Do you expect your employees to be available, online, from 9 to 5? Or you’re OK with a more flexible schedule: say, they’re free to work their 8 hours a week anywhere between 7 am and 7 pm?
Should they submit daily reports to their supervisors or maybe weekly reports?
How will team leads or managers measure remote staff’s performance? Will the same metrics be used as those for the on-site employees? You’ll want to put that in your work from home policy.
And what about your expectations when it comes to the response time for answering emails? Or just messages coming via Teams, let’s say, from colleagues they’re collaborating with on some projects?
Remember to add those, too, and to make them as clear as possible: “within 1-2 hours” instead of just “as quickly as possible”.
How often should department meetings be held?
You get the idea: make sure you document and clearly describe all the in-the-office and remote work, communication, and availability expectations in your hybrid working policy.
Provide the Right Tools and Equipment for Successful and Secure Work
What software will the employees be using to communicate with their co-workers? Put it on your remote work policy checklist and categorize it accordingly: specific tools for instant messaging, others for video calls, etc.
Add there all the other tools you’ll provide them (and expect them to use) to collaborate with their team members, for tracking the projects they’re involved in and for managing their tasks and time. And for accessing various resources available to them.
You might also need to add any other technology or equipment (e.g. a printer) that you’ll provide so they can set up their fully functional home offices.
Or to include all the information related to the home allowance bonus if you offer this type of benefit.
Make sure you list and add any expectations related to how they should be using these tools.
For instance, should they turn on their cameras during calls? Yes, only if they feel comfortable or is it mandatory during certain types of face-to-face meetings?
Establish Clear Rules About Working from Home
If you want your work from home policy to be effective, listing the communication and collaboration tools is not enough.
You should also describe the specific processes that’ll guarantee a successful collaboration between co-workers.
For this, you’ll need to have clear answers to questions like:
- How will their performances be measured?
- What communication tools should be used for team all hands-meetings?
- How should client kickoff meetings be planned?
- How should specific employee development activities be conducted?
Are employees expected to be online within the same fixed office hours, 5 days a week? Or can they adapt their schedules to fit in with other responsibilities or activities outside their work lives?
Document it in your remote work policy.
In short, include all the expectations related to remote employees’ availability. And all the processes they need to follow for good communication and collaboration with their team members when working from home.
Plan Time for Collaborating and Socializing
That’s right, consider adding guidelines related to baking in time every month or every few months, for non-work calls among team members, for brainstorming and planning.
Or simply for enjoying a virtual coffee together.
For it’s this type of activity that builds strong relationships between co-workers, reduces the feeling of loneliness, and prevents mental distress.
And contributes to the health of your organization’s culture.
Clearly Outline the Legal Rights that Remote Workers Have
Another one of the work from home policy best practices you’ll want to consider is setting clear guidelines regarding employees’ legal rights. From health insurance to compensation, to training and promotion opportunities (plus any other benefits).
Do remote workers have the same legal protections?
Are there any hourly employees that work off-site? If so, how will they report the hours they've worked?
And what about overtime? If you don’t want to risk having remote workers reporting too many overtime office hours, make it clear, in your hybrid work policy, that they should stick to the agreed number of work hours.
Or that they should first get permission from their direct managers if they do need to work extra hours on certain projects.
Discuss Compensation and Specific Perks That Employees Are Entitled To
And speaking of the employees’ rights, you don’t want to leave out any perks or information related to compensation.
Do you have a “be-well” bonus, a home office allowance, or a… refer-a-friend bonus? Perks related to the work from the office (like gas mileage reimbursement) or perks relevant for off-site staff only?
Or any other specific type of perk?
Add them to your remote work policy and clearly describe all the requirements they’ll
need to meet to receive them.
Set Security Guidelines
Keep in mind to document all the security protocols and specific procedures they must follow to keep company data secure.
For instance, is using a VPN mandatory? Can they use it outside work hours, too?
Put Your Remote Work Policy in Writing
Have you got your remote work policy checklist ready?
You know what guidelines around code of conduct, sick leave, perks, and advance approval processes, procedures, communication, and collaboration tools, you want your work from home policy to include.
Great! Put them all in writing.
Once they're all there, written in an employee handbook, there’ll be no more confusion about whether someone should reply to an email within 2 hours or… the following day if it’s after 7 pm.
Or whether meetings should be scheduled at least 24 hours or 2 hours in advance.
And any other questions that might pop up in your employees’ minds and ruin their deep work sessions. Or worse: lead to anxiety and… burnout.
How Do I Measure the Success of a Remote, Flexible, or Hybrid Work Policy?
Now that you’ve already ticked all the key points on your remote work policy checklist. It’s implemented and acted on.
How do you know whether it’s successful?
Here are the most effective ways you can measure it:
- Use productivity apps/software to identify the areas where your team(s) is succeeding and those where productivity is lower. And by “productivity” you’ll want to go beyond the “numbers of hours worked in a week”. Just make sure you communicate to your employees exactly how you will be measuring their success.
- Set clear results-oriented goals for each role/department, as well as deadlines.
- Check in regularly with your remote workers: see how they’re coping with the guidelines in the remote working policy and how they relate their productivity (or lack of it) to certain aspects included there (or if there’s a need for further clarifications). Evaluate the quality of their work in one-on-one meetings: if it starts to go down the hill, this could be a sign that your work from home policy needs improvements.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Remote and Hybrid Work Policy
Do you still have questions about writing and implementing your remote work policy? We’ve got answers:
Can You Allow Some Employees to Work from Home and Not Others?
Yes. And here are 2 good reasons why:
- There may be specific roles in your company that do not require a full-time presence in the office. Have you already identified them (or at least some of them) in your mind? Great!
- You might want to implement a criterion of performance or maybe one of seniority for selecting those employees that will be allowed to work remotely.
What Should Be Included in a Remote Work Policy?
Here are the 6 main points to add to your remote work policy checklist:
- Eligibility requirements and worker’s compensation: Which employees are allowed to work from home? All of them, only those with proven track records, only those who’ve been in the company for at least “n” months, only specific roles or departments? Can their remote work location be in a different city or country?
- Communication tools: Make sure to include all the approved instant messaging services and video conferencing platforms for team collaboration and client communication. And keep in mind to mention those that you don’t approve of, as well, for cybersecurity reasons.
- Benefits entitlement (plus any other perks): Are remote workers entitled to a home office allowance?
- Approval process: Do the department managers alone decide which employees in their teams are allowed to work remotely or it is an executive that needs to approve it.
- Acceptable days: When it comes to putting together a hybrid work policy you’ll need to mention if there are specific days in a week when remote workers have to be present, in-person, to handle client work or engage in teamwork.
- Tracking time: What time tracking process should remote workers use in case they’re being paid hourly?
How Do I Implement a Remote Work Policy?
So, you’ve outlined, drafted, and documented your remote work policy. Now, how do you roll it out?
There are 2 factors that determine its implementation process:
- The size of your company.
- The existing internal perceptions related to remote work.
The first step to take is to establish new operational norms. Here are some examples:
- The frequency of the meetings in the context of flexible working and the mediums that will be used.
- Performance measurement: how will remote workers’ performance be monitored?
- Company-wide communication.
- The path remote workers should take to be eligible for promotion.
What Does a Hybrid Work Policy Template Look Like?
From your remote workers’ perspective, it’s like an FAQ. One that includes answers to all the questions they have regarding their managers' expectations towards them and how their performance will be measured.
From your point of view, as a company, the hybrid working policy template is an outline that includes all the key pillars of your future remote work policy to help you document all the key processes and systems.
To help you boost your remote workers’ efficiency by standardizing day-to-day tasks or recurring systems that work best.
And speaking of the key pillars of a work from home policy template here’s what its “skeleton” could look like:
- Policy brief: What’s its purpose? Why is it relevant and how does it help your remote workers?
- Scope: To whom does it apply?
- Standard workplace rules and protocols (e.g. data privacy, code of conduct)
- Remote work
- Work hours and availability
- Communication channels (and expected response times)
- Cybersecurity precautions to be taken
- Hardware and software that you, as a company, will provide remote workers with
Need a “backbone” for your work-from-home policy to get started? Just use our own remote work policy template!
It has all the sections you’ll need to include in your policy — just flesh it out with your own information — and you can edit and adapt it to suit your needs in the slightest detail. You’re welcome!