As the modern work landscape evolves rapidly with advancing technology, setting employee expectations of remote employees is becoming more and more common across various industries. While remote work offers employees increased flexibility and independence, it also presents unique hurdles in terms of effective communication, maintaining productivity, and ensuring team unity.
It’s essential to remember that remote work comes with a particular set of dos, don’ts, and expectations that all employees must adhere to. While the transition to remote work may seem overwhelming, having clear employee expectations can provide clarity, direction, and security for your remote teams and ensure that everyone is working efficiently and productively.
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Establishing work-from-home expectations for remote employees is important in terms of punctuality, clarity, and the process they need to follow to work effectively. This could mean implementing guidelines and processes around remote communication, and attendance guidelines. Ensuring collaborations are seen and heard, tracking progress, managing workloads, and finding the right tools to facilitate the process.
Employee expectations should cover a wide array of topics such as virtual work etiquette for Zoom meetings, and presence guidelines. These should also ensure remote teams use appropriate backgrounds and video filters to maintain professionalism. As well as appropriate online behavior when engaging with peers and customers.
Steps and Strategies to Set Employee Expectations for Remote Work
Remote work has become a common reality for many employees. It’s important to establish some remote work best practices to ensure that remote workers are able to have effective remote working. Here are some best practices to consider when trying to answer the question of how to work remotely effectively.
- Establish Regular Check-Ins: Specify times for regular virtual meetings to ensure communication flows smoothly.
- Use Multiple Channels: Encourage the use of email, chat, and video conferencing for different types of communications.
- Set Response Times: Define expected response times for emails and messages to avoid misunderstandings.
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- Define Work Hours: Clearly specify the expected work hours for all remote employees.
- Breaks and Time Off: Outline the policy for breaks, lunches, and time off.
- Attendance Policy: Create a clear attendance policy that takes into account time zones if applicable.
Productivity & Performance
- Set Clear Objectives: List out short-term and long-term goals for employees to meet.
- KPIs and Metrics: Define key performance indicators to gauge productivity.
- Progress Tracking: Establish methods for tracking work progress.
- Daily/Weekly Reports: Ask for regular updates on tasks and projects.
- Ownership: Emphasize the importance of taking ownership of one’s duties and responsibilities.
- Time Tracking: Consider using time-tracking software to ensure focus and productivity.
- Prioritize Work: Help employees understand the hierarchy of tasks and deadlines.
- Use Project Management Tools: Employ tools like Asana or Trello for better task organization.
- Delegate Efficiently: Make roles and responsibilities clear.
- Teamwork: Foster a collaborative environment even in a virtual setting.
- Document Sharing: Use cloud-based platforms like Google Drive for easy document sharing.
- Feedback Loops: Encourage open and constructive feedback among team members.
- Provide Necessary Tools: Ensure all employees have access to the necessary hardware and software.
- IT Support: Make sure employees know who to contact for technical issues.
- Security Measures: Emphasize the importance of following security protocols while working remotely.
- Encourage Flexibility: Where possible, offer some flexibility in work hours for better work-life balance.
- Set Boundaries: Help employees set work-life boundaries to prevent burnout.
- Wellness Programs: Offer online wellness programs or stress management seminars.
- Remote Onboarding: Have a structured onboarding program for remote employees.
- Mentorship Programs: Pair new employees with seasoned ones for guidance.
Enjoyment and Gifting
- Team Building Activities: Plan virtual team-building activities to foster camaraderie and enjoyment.
- Reward Systems: Create a point-based or performance-based reward system that lets employees choose gifts or perks.
- Birthday and Work Anniversary Acknowledgments: Celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries with small tokens or virtual celebrations.
- Recognition for Achievements: Reward outstanding work with public recognition or small gifts, such as vouchers or coupons.
- Casual Virtual Meetups: Schedule non-work related virtual coffee breaks or happy hours to build a positive team culture.
- Personalized Gifts: Occasionally send personalized gifts to employees’ homes to show appreciation for their hard work.
- Employee Choice: Give employees the option to choose their preferred rewards or gifts.
- Cultural Celebrations: Acknowledge and celebrate diverse festivals or holidays that are important to your team members by sending themed gifts or holding virtual events.
- Well-being Gifts: Consider sending gifts that contribute to well-being, such as ergonomic office supplies or wellness kits.
- Feedback for Enjoyment: Keep an open channel for suggestions on how to make remote work more enjoyable and what kinds of gifts or rewards employees would appreciate.
Additional Bonus Points
- Expense Policies: Make remote work expense policies clear (e.g., Wi-Fi, electricity).
- Legal Aspects: Ensure all work-from-home policies adhere to employment laws.
- Trial Periods: Consider having a trial period for new remote employees to assess suitability.
- Feedback on Policies: Encourage employees to provide feedback on remote work policies for continuous improvement.
- Periodic Reviews: Periodically revisit and update remote work policies to adapt to changing circumstances.
Work From Home Requirements
While a good balance of work and fun is vital for a company’s morale, too many potato head filters and virtual avatars can negatively impact productivity and employee engagement in a remote work environment.
The requirements for working from home can vary depending on the nature of the job, the industry, and the specific needs of the employer and employee. Below is a generalized list of requirements that are commonly needed for a work-from-home arrangement:
- Computer/Laptop: A reliable computer or laptop with sufficient processing power and memory to perform your job tasks.
- High-Speed Internet: A stable and fast internet connection to ensure smooth communication and task execution.
- Webcam & Microphone: For video conferencing and virtual meetings.
- Printer/Scanner: Depending on the nature of the work, you may need to print and scan documents.
- Ergonomic Furniture: A comfortable and ergonomically designed chair and desk to maintain good posture during work hours.
- Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS): To prevent loss of work during power outages.
- Multiple Monitors: Some roles may require more than one screen for multitasking.
- Operating System: A secure and up-to-date operating system (Windows, MacOS, Linux, etc.)
- VPN: To securely connect to the company’s internal network, if necessary.
- Productivity Software: Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, or similar for document editing, spreadsheets, and presentations.
- Communication Tools: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or other tools for virtual communication.
- Task Management: Software like Asana, Trello, or Jira for tracking projects and tasks.
- Antivirus Software: To protect against malware and viruses.
- Specialized Software: Any software that is essential for your specific role, such as Adobe Creative Suite for designers or IDEs for developers.
Skills and Behavioral Requirements
- Self-Discipline: The ability to manage your time and tasks without direct supervision.
- Communication: Strong written and verbal communication skills to interact with team members and clients.
- Tech-Savviness: Basic troubleshooting skills and familiarity with your hardware and software tools.
- Availability: Being available during the company’s business hours and responsiveness to emails, messages, and calls.
- Data Security: Awareness of and adherence to data privacy laws and company data security policies.
- Adaptability: The ability to quickly adapt to changes in tools, processes, or tasks.
- Quiet Space: A distraction-free environment to facilitate focus and concentration.
- Good Lighting: Adequate lighting to reduce eye strain.
- Temperature Control: A comfortable room temperature for optimal productivity.
- Network Reliability: A contingency plan for network outages, such as a mobile hotspot.
Understanding and meeting these requirements can help ensure that you are well-equipped to work from home effectively and efficiently.
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Remote Work Policy – Points to Consider
Remote work policies are becoming increasingly prevalent, especially in the wake of global events that have accelerated the need for flexible working arrangements. Here are key points to consider when drafting a remote work policy:
- Objective: Clearly state the purpose of the policy and its alignment with organizational goals.
- Define which roles are eligible for remote work.
- Specify if it’s a permanent arrangement, temporary, or on a needs basis.
- Equipment & Technology:
- Identify who provides the necessary equipment (computers, monitors, etc.).
- Define security protocols for devices.
- Software & collaboration tools to be used.
- Technical support and troubleshooting mechanisms.
- Outline expectations for creating a productive, safe, and secure home office environment.
- Clarify any reimbursements available for home office setup.
- Work Hours & Availability:
- Define core working hours if applicable.
- Specify time-tracking methods (if any).
- Communication expectations during work hours.
- Performance Metrics:
- Outline how performance will be measured and monitored.
- Specify any reporting requirements.
- Recommend communication tools/platforms.
- Define communication protocols, frequency of team check-ins, and meetings.
- Data Security & Privacy:
- Outline practices for ensuring the confidentiality and security of company data.
- Recommendations for secure internet connections, VPNs, password management, etc.
- Training & Development:
- State if remote workers have access to the same training opportunities as on-site employees.
- Define processes for onboarding remote employees.
- Health & Wellbeing:
- Emphasize the importance of taking breaks.
- Recommend ergonomic work setups.
- Provide resources/support for mental health and stress management.
- Expenses & Reimbursements:
- Specify what expenses will be reimbursed and the process for claims.
- Examples include phone/internet bills, office supplies, etc.
- Legal & Tax Implications:
- Be aware of any legal obligations, especially if employees work from different jurisdictions.
- Mention tax implications for both employer and employee.
- Travel & Meetings:
- Specify any requirements for occasional on-site visits or meetings.
- Define the company’s stance on covering travel expenses for such meetings.
- Feedback & Reviews:
- Set a frequency for regular feedback on the remote work policy itself.
- Encourage employees to share challenges and suggestions for improvement.
- Emergency Protocols:
- Define how remote workers should respond during emergencies or unexpected situations.
- Policy Review and Updates:
- State how often the policy will be reviewed.
- Mechanism for updating the policy as needed.
- Procedures for returning company property.
- Specify any differences in the termination process for remote versus on-site employees.
- Cultural and Team Building:
- Suggest ways remote workers can stay connected to the company culture.
- Encourage participation in virtual team-building activities.
- Emphasize the importance of separating work from personal life.
- Offer tips or resources on setting boundaries at home.
- Accessibility & Inclusion:
- Ensure the policy does not discriminate and is inclusive.
- Consider special needs and accommodations.
Incorporating these points will help create a comprehensive remote work policy that addresses various facets of remote employment. It’s essential to periodically review and update this policy as the needs of the organization and its employees evolve.
Sample Remote Work Policy
To create a remote work policy SHRM that is clear and concise, organizations can use templates and guidelines provided by resources such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Key elements of a remote work policy may include guidelines around communication, availability, attendance, equipment, and technology.
To encourage compliance with the policy, organizations may offer incentives. Incentives such as rewards, perks, or recognition programs that recognize employees who meet or exceed expectations while working remotely. A well-designed sample remote work policy can help create a positive and productive remote work environment that supports employee morale and engagement. Consider using a remote work policy template for an easier understanding of employee expectations.