What is a remote work policy?


Jun 5, 2024

A remote work policy is a set of guidelines and expectations established by an organization to manage employees who work from locations outside the traditional office environment. It outlines rules, responsibilities, and procedures to ensure productivity, communication, and compliance.

What to include in a remote work policy

A well-defined remote work policy provides clarity and consistency for both employers and employees. It sets expectations and provides guidelines for effective remote work arrangements.

Purpose and scope

A remote work policy should begin with a clear statement of its purpose and scope, including:

  • Eligibility: Define which roles or employees are eligible for remote work. This can be based on job functions, performance, or seniority.
  • Frequency: Specify how often team members can work remotely (e.g., full-time, certain days of the week, occasional).
  • Permanence: Indicate if remote work is a temporary arrangement (e.g., during emergencies) or a permanent option.
  • Requests: Are your employees required to put in a remote work request before telecommuting or working from home? If so, outline the process for requesting remote or hybrid work, including any required forms or approvals.
  • Other policies: Explain related company policies, such as attendance, timekeeping, and performance management. It’s also a good idea to note that remote employees are required to comply with all other company rules and policies, like your Code of Conduct and everything in your employee handbook. 

Tools and equipment

Detail the tools and equipment necessary for your remote team, including:

  • What you’ll provide: Specify what equipment and software the company will provide; for example, laptops, communication tools, software licenses, VPN access, hardware like wi-fi routers, etc. In some cases, this may even include remote office space, like coworking memberships.
  • What they provide: Outline what employees are expected to provide; for example, a home office, certain apps, internet connection, etc. If reimbursement will be provided for home office expenses, outline that in their remote work agreement.

Expectations for remote workers

Set clear expectations for remote workers’ productivity and accountability, covering the following:

  • Working hours: Define expected working hours or a set work schedule when employees must be available each workday and workweek.
  • Availability: Specify any availability requirements, such as being reachable during business hours or responding to emails within a certain timeframe.
  • Meetings: Outline expectations for attending virtual meetings and video conferencing.
  • Communication: Establish guidelines for regular check-ins and communication with supervisors and co-workers. You may also want to make it part of your policy that remote workers use specific communication tools like Slack or Zoom—communication and collaboration become nearly impossible for remote teams if different members try to communicate on different platforms.
  • Remote work location and travel: If applicable, address any travel requirements (or restrictions) related to remote work. For example, if a remote employee will be expected to travel to work on-site in-person periodically, make sure to address that. Or if your company restricts remote workers from traveling and working from foreign countries, make sure to outline that in your written policy.
  • Productivity and performance metrics: Define how productivity and performance will be measured and monitored.
  • Rightful termination: Clarify the conditions under which remote work arrangements can be terminated by the employer. It’s also a good idea to put in writing that employees can’t be terminated simply because they work remotely under the company’s policy.

Remote work benefits

While your employees’ individual employment agreements should cover their compensation and benefits, your remote work policy should include a section with any additional benefits that are exclusive to remote employees to help them maintain their work-life balance and recoup costs associated with working from home. These may include:

  • Childcare stipends: Some employers offer childcare stipends or access to childcare services to support remote workers with young children.
  • Equipment and technology stipends: Employers may provide stipends or reimbursements for home office equipment, internet services, and other necessary technology to support remote work.
  • Professional development: Access to training programs, online courses, and professional development opportunities to help remote employees advance their skills and careers.
  • Wellness programs: Remote workers may have access to wellness programs that include gym memberships, mental health resources, and wellness challenges.
  • Travel reimbursement: For roles that require travel, remote employees may receive reimbursement for travel expenses.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Confidential support services for personal or work-related issues, including counseling and legal advice.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance: Because workers’ compensation insurance requirements vary by state, employers may offer different coverage to remote workers depending on their location.

Physical work environment

Provide guidelines to help employees create a productive and safe home office. This may include tips for creating a home workspace that’s free from distractions. You may also offer safety tips, such as ergonomic desk setups and taking regular breaks to prevent strain and injury, since home worksites can be covered by OSHA rules in some states.

Security and privacy

Lastly, include a section to make sure remote work adheres to your company’s security and privacy standards:

  • Data protection: Outline procedures for data security and protecting confidential information, including using secure networks and encrypted communications.
  • IT support: Provide information on how employees can access IT support for remote work issues.
  • Privacy: Make sure employees understand their responsibilities regarding confidentiality and data privacy, from your company’s multi-factor authentication policies to your rules for updating software and devices.

What is the purpose of a remote work policy?

Writing a remote work policy provides a clear framework that outlines the guidelines and expectations for employees who engage in flexible work arrangements. 

These policies, often referred to as work from home policies, ensure that employees perform their job duties effectively while continuing to meet business needs. Your remote work policy should help maintain consistency, productivity, and security across the organization, regardless of where employees are located. By clearly defining roles, responsibilities, and procedures, a remote work policy supports both the employees' ability to work flexibly and the company's operational requirements.

How to implement a remote work policy

Follow these steps to implement your remote work policy:

1. Develop and write your policy. Collaborate with human resources, IT, and legal teams to draft a comprehensive policy.

2. Communicate the policy with your organization. Clearly communicate the policy to all employees, highlighting its key points and your expectations for remote workers.

3. Provide training. Offer training sessions on remote work best practices, tools, and security protocols.

4. Set up systems for remote workers. Make sure all necessary tools and systems are in place to support remote work, including IT support and secure access to company resources.

5. Monitor and review your remote work environment. Regularly monitor the effectiveness of the policy and make adjustments as needed based on feedback and performance metrics.

Frequently asked questions about remote work policies

What is a remote work policy?

A remote work policy is a set of guidelines and expectations established by an organization to manage employees who work from locations outside the traditional office environment.

Who is eligible for remote work?

Eligibility for remote work is typically based on job functions, performance, and seniority, as outlined in each organization’s individual remote work policy.

How do you measure productivity for remote workers?

Productivity can be measured using performance metrics, regular check-ins, project deadlines, and output quality.

What tools do remote workers use?

Essential tools for remote work include laptops, software licenses, secure VPN access, communication platforms, and project management tools.

How do remote workers keep data secure?

They use secure networks, encrypted communications, and data protection protocols outlined in their remote work policy.

Can remote work policies be terminated?

Yes, remote work arrangements can be terminated based on conditions specified in the remote work policy, such as performance issues or changes in business needs.

Disclaimer: Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting, or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide or be relied on for tax, accounting, or legal advice. You should consult your own tax, accounting, and legal advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: June 16, 2024

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