As we’ve confirmed before, there’s plenty of benefits to welcoming Remote Working solutions into the workplace – not least for the added flexibility and increased employee satisfaction.
Still, we’d be remiss not to mention the care and caution required before a Remote Working policy is truly fit for purpose. Great power, after all, comes with great responsibility.
Technically, a business could cobble together a Remote Working setup in an afternoon, as the software exists almost unanimously across even basic devices. Logistically, it’s a lot more complex; you’ll need to lay down some seriously stringent guidelines if yours is to function under duress and legal scrutiny.
Here are our Seven-Simple Standards for your Remote Working Policy:
- Security Standards
It’s a drum we’ve beaten time and time again, but not without reason. With remote working, your company data travels out of the office and into the comparatively insecure setup of home routers – or worse yet, the coffee shop WiFi.
It’s important that your policy clarifies the security expectations of your remote workers. Might you limit them to home Wi-Fi only? Will users be required to use wired connections only?
It’s not only virtual security to consider either; where possible, you might want to limit the distance and duration that employees can carry their remote equipment. It’s not unheard of for company equipment to go missing from vehicles or unattended areas.
Where employees have a responsibility for device security, however, managers have a responsibility for all else; which includes such security measures as VPNs, SaaS Protection and Anti-Virus software across all devices.
- Who is Eligible?
If everyone could work remotely, we’d never need an office again. Sadly, they can’t - and we still do. Consider your company work model, and those employees whose work necessitates long periods away from the desk; granting Remote Working privileges to anybody else might later prove a waste of money and resources.
It also helps to make your eligibility policy known at the earliest convenience. With Remote Working on the rise, many applicants expect it as standard, only to be disappointed by the reality.
- What Hardware is Permitted?
For some companies, providing their own mandated hardware for Remote Working purposes can prove costly or inefficient. A Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy entrusts users with their own devices for mobile working, but opens up your business to a range of devices, each with their own compatibility problems, security measures or weaknesses.
In any instance, you’ll want to mandate the kind of devices that can be used or enact a security solution that is united and consistent across all major devices. That way, all devices will be created equal in terms of your security setup.
- When Should Remote Working Be Allowed?
It seems self-defeating to implement Remote Working, only to ‘hamper’ flexibility by defining strict working hours; but implementing timeframes around Remote Working ensures that employees adhere to schedules which are fair to those still resigned to desk working. Crucially, it also makes it easier to log the activities of remote workers.
In the uncommon instance that your work premises are compromised – via flood, fire, or contagious illness, for instance – a business-wide remote working policy could help maintain full company continuity. With everyone in your network working from home, you’ll likely want to put tighter restrictions on this solution so that everyone works to a set security standard. It might sound like a broad undertaking, but it could save some proverbial bacon in the face of those unexpected events.
Of course, you can still elect to bend remote working hours as you see fit, but too much flexibility can make the complexities hard to manage.
It’s important that your policy isn’t treated as a liberty; workers need to know what their expectations are in terms of output, and how those will be measured outside of the office environment. Your expectations should also consider response times, including acceptable response times for other employees, superiors or customers.
It’s important that these rules are protected, as without them your remote workers can’t be sure that their efforts are being compared fairly. Crucially, it once again holds your mobile and on-premise workers to the same working standards, keeping your work environment fair.
- Where is Remote Working Allowed?
Not all locations are built equal, as our previous comment on coffee shop WiFi alluded to. Yet it’s not only the quality of WiFi security that makes defining location so important.
If you work in recruitment, for example, a public WiFi area could compromise personal details as they’re being transmitted, whether through VoIP or text messaging; it’s vitally important that the working environment could not impede your ability to keep data confidential. There are other practical matters to consider; could you conduct team meetings or important conference calls in a loud or unpredictable environment?
Finally, employers also have a responsibility to ensure work is conducted within safe environmental standards; this too will have a significant effect on where work can legally be conducted.
- Who Will Support Remote Workers?
If you work within a BYOD policy, you potentially open the floodgates for a range of different hardware and operating systems. Ask yourself if you can provide the appropriate tech support for all of these different systems. In the likely case that you can’t, you’ll need to make sure that remote workers are aware of the limited support on offer.
As you can see, Remote Working is only easy to set up on the technical side; a fair, compliant and secure Remote Working policy takes much more thought and care. Yet with enough precaution and a concise strategy, you can start to reap the benefits - confident that yours is built to last.
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