Remote work has taken the home office by storm. Slacks are out. Slack is in. But what happens when your remote team starts slacking off? Or do you need to cut them some slack?

Things can get complicated when you’re managing employees from the comfort of your sweatpants.

Thankfully, there’s a simple way for small businesses to get it right. Keeping employees accountable and ensuring they feel supported is often as simple as putting the proper remote work plan in place.

This article will serve as a comprehensive guide for developing a remote structure, and we’ll offer you a free remote work plan template to start with.

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Understanding the remote work plan

Over the past couple of years, as we all rebound from the “new normal” back to old ways of living and working, there’s been a wave of Return-to-Office (RTO) mandates sweeping across organizations.

To put it lightly, these changes are causing a severe rift between managers and employees. Managers know that remote work has the potential to harm company culture, and many early studies have pointed to potential productivity losses from going remote.

Much of that data has been refuted, often by the same institutions. However, those early proclamations of a great calamity have stuck in the minds of many leaders.

The remote workforce, on the other hand, doesn’t want to go back to the old “normal.” They have a taste for a new way of working and living, and they won’t give it up easily. In fact, according to Flexjobs, more than half of all workers would prefer to work fully remote, and 46% would prefer a hybrid working arrangement.

Reconciling these conflicting priorities is where the remote work plan comes into play. 

A well-constructed remote work plan forms an agreement between employers and employees designed to align your organization around this new way of working. It’s a method that respects the foundation of in-person work while adapting to today’s remote environments and needs.

An excellent remote work plan template will help you highlight new efficiencies in the flexibility remote work can offer and explain company benefits beyond the standard simple remote work agreement.

Done properly, a remote work plan will become one of the foundational elements of your organization’s culture by establishing trust, transparency, and alignment between managers and remote team members.

Remote work scheduling

5 key components of a remote work plan

A successful remote work plan is a comprehensive guide to making remote work more manageable and productive for your employees. Employers should develop a clear framework that remote workers can follow.

Your remote work plan should be precise, detailed, and robust enough to be effective and supportive across your organization. Here are the essential elements you should consider:

1. Company objectives and scope

Your organization’s strategic objectives form the foundation of the remote work plan. 

Communicate your business strategy with employees and establish expected outcomes that align with them. These should include increased productivity, improved employee well-being, and similar elements.

Define eligible employees and job duties, employee performance requirements, and other core elements needed to meet your objectives.

Next, establish specific KPIs that help your employees know how to operate within the scope of the remote work plan. Be clear about what these metrics are and how you’ll measure them.

Finally, define the scope of your plan. 

This will typically cover the length of the arrangement and the frequency of remote work days. For example, the scope might be to work remotely from home permanently or for three (3) days per week. 

It can be permanent or temporary, depending on the situation. But if you plan on making a change, ensure this is transparent from the beginning.

2. Remote working agreement

If the objectives and scope are the building blocks of your remote work plan, the agreement is the glue that holds it all together. A remote working agreement should clearly outline the expectations for both employees and employers, including designated work hours, availability, communication channels, evaluation methods, and expectations (if any) for visiting the physical office space.

Include their job duties, ways to communicate with team members, project management changes, and anything else you might want to review. If there’s a metric you use to measure employee productivity, add an element of it to this agreement.

Employee remote working requests will generally flow through HR, which will assess the employee’s eligibility before sending them the remote working agreement for them to sign. The agreement aims to mitigate potential misunderstandings and establish your organization’s remote work culture.

Creating a remote working agreement

3. Guidelines and responsibilities for remote workers

A good set of guidelines goes a long way to ensuring employees understand their responsibilities and are working remotely in the most productive way. Here are some considerations we recommend:

  • Employees should have access to a dedicated office space. This includes reliable internet access and a quiet, distraction-free remote environment.
  • Employees should follow a daily and weekly schedule for completing work duties and taking breaks. 
  • Remote schedules should overlap with each other and in-office team members (if you have any) for at least some portion of the week. 
  • All employees should attend weekly team meetings to discuss progress and results.
  • Remote teams should conduct one-on-one meetings weekly to maintain direct accountability and allow a more intimate environment for discussion.
  • The entire team should understand everyone’s remote work schedule and working hours.

4. Compliance with policies

You’ll want to establish a clear set of company policies for your remote teams to follow. Think of this as recreating your existing employee handbook with remote work in mind.

This could include things such as: 

  • If this is a permanent or temporary agreement
  • Employee code of conduct
  • Attendance
  • Dress code 
  • Confidentiality
  • Cybersecurity and data protection
  • Anti-discrimination
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Adherence to industry-specific regulations
  • Internet and computer usage
  • If you cover office-related costs
  • Any expected changes to job duties

We’ve outlined a sample remote work policy in our free remote work plan template.

5. Equipment and technical needs

Your remote work plan should outline the essential equipment and technology you’ll provide remote employees. Tools including a VPN (virtual private network), computer, and communication software will eliminate interruptions to their workflows outside the office environment.

Consider providing a remote working allowing for your employees to purchase other equipment and software as needed.

Remote work plan and agreement template

Free remote work plan template 

Now that you know the ins and outs of remote work plans, let’s get you started with our free template. Simply download it here, and you’re ready to get started creating a remote working agreement employees love.

Putting a remote work plan into action

Now, let’s review how to make the most out of your remote work plan template. You’ll begin by customizing it to your company’s goals, culture, remote work policy, and guidelines.

Fill out each section with as much detail as you can. A clear, robust plan serves as a guide employees can continuously reference throughout their remote work arrangement.

Finally, you’ll want to ask for constructive feedback on your plan. Your employees will not only be able to help you refine the plan, but collaborating with them will also help to ensure buy-in from all stakeholders. That also helps ensure a more positive work-life balance.

With the template in hand and a strong start, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of creating your remote work plan.

Remote employee working from a home office

Creating your remote work plan

We recommend an approach that keeps your team at the heart of how your plan comes to life and aligns the organization’s goals with the needs of your employees. The result will be a thriving culture that is more productive and supported than ever before.

Let’s take the template from above and walk through a step-by-step guide for crafting your remote work plan.

Establish clear rules and expectations

When managing a team remotely, it’s difficult to know if your employees are hard at work or hardly working. And when they’re logging on at different times in different places, things can get even more complicated.

Establishing clear, actionable guidelines such as shared login times can increase collaboration, reinforce accountability, and promote a focused work environment. 

Define employee eligibility and roles

Remote work is more well-suited for some roles than others. And some employees are better than others at managing their time and productivity when working remotely.

Consider defining employee eligibility for remote working agreements based on communication skills, self-discipline, and the inherent requirements for the role. For example, a car salesperson will likely need to work in person due to the nature of their job, but an administrator at the dealership may be another story.

Analytics such as past attendance records and productivity levels can help you make informed decisions on an individual employee basis, ensuring you are only organizing remote work agreements with those who will excel in that position.

Set communication and collaboration protocols

Protocols such as weekly meetings, daily Stand-ups via video calls, and designated task management systems will help your team members thrive remotely.

Another thing to consider is regular feedback sessions, bi-weekly or monthly, to foster the professional growth of your employees, address any issues, and help them feel valued and supported.

Semi-regular virtual events can also improve company culture and employee engagement.

Tools and resources required

Keeping remote employees productive and connected often comes down to equipping them with the proper tools and resources. Resources such as computers, VPNs, and Wi-Fi will mitigate interruptions to employee workflows. Communication platforms like Slack will ensure collaboration doesn’t suffer. 

Project management tools make it easy to assign tasks and ensure all employees are on the same page. And a go-to video conferencing service like Google Meet or Zoom will make meetings a breeze. Look for options that integrate with your existing platforms.

Hubstaff’s time tracking features ensure employees are productive and focused throughout their designated working hours.

Implementing the remote work plan

Even the most comprehensive and clear remote work plan can fail if you don’t implement it properly. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your organization experiences a smooth transition:

Implementation strategies

  • Consider a gradual rollout with a small group or department before implementing your plan across the organization. This allows you to identify any issues and make minor adjustments.
  • Organize training sessions to familiarize employees with the plan’s protocols, tools, and resources.
  • Keep communication lines open and encourage employees to share their experiences throughout the implementation process.

Tracking effectiveness

Scheduling regular check-ins, tracking performance metrics, and collecting feedback are great ways to track the effectiveness of your remote work plan. Hubstaff’s productivity tracking features are excellent for collecting and analyzing employee data.

Lastly, be flexible and empathetic. Remote work environments open employees up to situations that wouldn’t be a factor when working from the office. Be patient and understanding when issues such as noisy construction and leaky roofs arise.

Remote employee at peace with their remote work situation.

You’re ready for remote work

A remote work plan is essential for ensuring remote employees stay productive and focused but feel supported and satisfied in their roles. It all begins by establishing clear guidelines and frameworks that align with your organization’s long-term goals.

Furthermore, being flexible and communicating with your team will allow you to continuously improve the plan as you implement it. And, once all is said and done, you might find your organization’s culture is stronger than ever when you were all working from the same physical location.

Now, let’s get back to work.

Category: Remote