4 key areas your remote work policy should cover

September 17, 2021 | John Batzel, Veronica S. C. Rossos

As we progress through the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing more businesses adopt a hybrid model workplace with some employees returning to the office and others continuing to work from home.

With this new model likely to become the norm for many employers, it’s important to review and update your current policies and procedures to ensure they apply to both onsite and remote work.

Here are 4 key areas your remote work policy should cover:

1. Workplace health and safety

Health and safety still needs to be appropriately managed for employees who are working from home. In certain circumstances, injuries sustained at the employee’s home can be classified as workplace-related. In order to minimize the risk, your remote work policy should:

  • Define where the workplace extends to and how the workplace extends into the employee’s home;
  • Indicate when the employee is considered to be in the work environment and when they are not;
  • Make it clear that breaks are time away from work; and
  • Establish that the employee is expected to maintain a safe work area in their home in a manner similar to the office environment and free of safety hazards.

2. Performance management

It can be difficult to assess employees who are not on-site to be observed but these strategies can help you manage their performance:

Train your employees on how to work remotely

  • Set clear expectations for performance standards, work hours, levels of communication and general availability; and
  • Remind employees that all company policies still apply when they are working from home, such as only using company property for business purposes.

Monitor your remote workforce

  • Rely on your managers and supervisors for direct insight; they are in the best position to evaluate how responsive and productive an employee might be;
  • In some cases, you may also consider the use of monitoring software or tracking devices;
  • Make sure employees understand how they will be monitored and evaluated; and
  • Reward strong performance and impose discipline when needed.

3. Employee engagement

The community fostered within the office environment is often the main difference between one company and the next. Without face-to-face interaction, remote workers can feel disconnected from their workplace, resulting in a drop in employee morale and retention rates.

Keep your workforce engaged

  • Maintain connections with employees working from home by incorporating online tools to provide the communications and opportunities that would have been offered in-person prior to COVID-19 lockdowns;
  • Actively encourage remote workers to participate in on-site office activities, such as in-person learning programs or social events; and
  • Ensure people feel appreciated and recognized, and that they are welcome to speak candidly on new hybrid styles of work.

4. Information security

When employees are working remotely, any physical protective measures implemented at the office become ineffective, exposing your business to security breaches and reputational risk.

How do you ensure confidential business information is protected?

  • Remind employees that existing policies on maintaining confidentiality still apply regardless of where they are working from;
  • Require employees to lock computers and restrict access to business files when they need to step away from work; and
  • Provide the necessary technical supports for an employee to effectively perform their job from home.

 

If you have any questions or concerns about your current policies and procedures, please reach out to a member of our national Labour & Employment Group.

Disclaimer

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