It seems remote work is here to stay — with predictions that 32.6 million Americans will work remotely by 2025. If your company has employees working from home, it’s essential to have a remote work policy in place to outline expectations and ensure that remote workers stay aligned with company goals. 

In this guide, we explore what a remote work policy is and the benefits of having one in your company. We also look at best practices and rules for employees to follow. Most importantly, we’ll provide you with a template you can use so you don’t have to start from scratch. 

In a rush? No worries; here is a link to our Remote Work Policy Template to download and customize it quickly.

With that said, let’s dive in to uncover the steps to build a remote work policy tailored to your business needs and culture.

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What is a remote work policy? 

A remote work policy establishes guidelines for employees to conduct business outside traditional on-site offices. Also referred to as work-from-home or telecommuting policies, these frameworks codify best practices surrounding off-site work arrangements to nurture productivity while protecting company interests.

Well-constructed remote policies outline factors intended to build success for remote teams, including: 

  • Eligibility parameters
  • Accountability metrics
  • Data security protocols
  • Legal/regulatory considerations
  • Communication expectations

Remote work policies vary widely, and a remote work policy acts similarly to an employee handbook, clearly dictating expectations for employees who work from home.

Let’s start by exploring the benefits of remote work policies. 

Benefits of having a remote work policy

Implementing a clearly defined remote work policy offers myriad upsides for businesses embracing flexible working arrangements

Benefits of implementing a remote work policy
  • Increase employee productivity: Remote work arrangements increase employee productivity by providing flexibility, reducing commute-related stress, and enabling employees to work during their most productive hours, ultimately enhancing motivation.
  • Protect work-life balance: Clear communication of expected work hours can improve employee engagement and create a better work-life balance for remote teams.
  • Trust and transparency: Transparent expectations allow remote teams to excel through structured communication protocols, delimited technology resources, and unambiguous productivity expectations. 
  • Enhance employee management: Managers similarly benefit from consistent frameworks to spur collaboration, monitor contributions, and curb absenteeism when overseeing dispersed teams.
  • Data security and privacy: Defined policies reinforce data security while ensuring compliance — upholding data security even as workforces decentralize. 

As you can see, instituting clear remote work policies yields impressive benefits for managers and employees.

In other words, everyone benefits from a solid remote work policy. 

  • Employees: For remote employees, an effectively communicated policy framework reduces ambiguity surrounding expectations, professional conduct, performance metrics, and technology utilization.
  • Managers: For managers, structured guidance within remote policies helps calibrate oversight of off-site employees through consistent check-ins and objective productivity measures.
  • Organizations: At the enterprise level, remote work policies provide access to broader talent pools, which leads to higher retention and increased flexibility. They also reinforce company culture and improve operational integrity as distributed teams can work seamlessly.  

With that said, let’s take a look at what an effective remote work policy should include. 

Key elements of a remote work policy

Below, we look at the most essential elements of a remote work policy. We’ll divide them into two categories: 

  1. Defining work and expectations
  2. Eligibility and scope

This way, it will be easier for you to clarify what remote work entails and what is expected from employees, as well as outline the criteria for eligibility and the scope of the remote work policy.

Defining remote work and expectations

Your organization’s remote work policy should define distributed work arrangements that enable staff to conduct regular job duties from home offices. 

Expectations within these flexible policies should aim to empower employees with increased autonomy over scheduling and location while establishing helpful communication expectations, security protocols, and productivity management. 

By balancing empowerment and accountability, your remote policies will help all remote employees thrive through structured guidelines. 

The policy should also clarify that managers and employees are expected to embrace a culture of transparent dialogue to clarify the company’s support for mutual trust.

Eligibility and scope

The remote work policy should outline the criteria for eligibility and the scope of remote work within your organization. 

Eligibility typically considers certain factors to determine who qualifies for remote work. For example, it might include things such as 

  • Job roles
  • Employee performance 
  • The nature of tasks

The scope addresses expectations, communication protocols, and technology requirements for remote employees. It may specify additional criteria to ensure productivity and collaboration, including

  • Working hours
  • Reporting structures 
  • Accountability measures

Additionally, the policy may detail data security and confidentiality measures to protect sensitive information. You must also have clear guidelines on equipment, internet connectivity, and virtual collaboration tools.

Establishing a well-defined remote work policy fosters a transparent and supportive work environment, balancing flexibility with organizational goals

These fundamental elements will give you a comprehensive framework that you can then use to develop your remote work policy.

Free remote work policy template 

Now that you understand what a remote work policy should include download our free template to help make your work easier. 

Remote work policy

Remote Work Policy Template

Note that these policies are usually comprised of multiple pages. Yours may be longer or shorter depending on the industry and scope of the company. 

Customizing your remote work policy template

No remote work policy works for all businesses. The foundation of an effective remote work policy begins with a template that outlines all the essential components tailored to your organization’s specific needs. 

With that said, here are detailed instructions to help you create a comprehensive, thoughtfully constructed template that ensures consistency, structure, and transparency in your company’s remote work strategy.

Step-by-step guide

Steps to customize your remote work policy template

Step #1: Determine eligibility 

Decide which groups of employees qualify for remote work based on factors like role, tenure, past performance, and suitability. You can start slowly with specific teams or open up eligibility widely from the start. Clearly outline eligibility criteria in your policy. Consider elements like a reliable internet connection and virtual private networks (VPNs).  

Step #2: Define work locations and schedules

Remote work allows flexibility and set standards for typical work hours and locations. You can require employees to work in a home office location or allow work from anywhere. Outline core hours where you expect availability for team meetings and collaboration. 

Step #3: Establish communication protocols 

Provide guidance around preferred communication channels, such as Gmail, Slack, or similar apps, and expectations for response time and accessibility. For example, one requirement you can add is checking and responding to emails or messages within a specific window.  

Step #4: Set productivity expectations 

Define how productivity and work output will be measured through quantifiable metrics and goals unique to each role. Make sure to outline the required frequency for sending progress reports to managers.

Step #5: Review equipment, tech needs, and support 

Specify what equipment, software, and tech support will be supplied by the company for employees working remotely. Set rules regarding access restrictions and cybersecurity practices. Outline any stipends, reimbursements, or purchase policies you will provide remote employees with. Consider factors like electricity and internet bills and home office setup. 

Step #6: Define data security guidelines 

Provide information on any mandatory data security, customer privacy, and confidentiality training. Establish procedures for reporting data breaches and ensure protocols adhere to regulations. Clarify the expected use of a virtual private network. 

Step #7: Establish reimbursement guidelines 

Specify what work-related expenses are covered if employees furnish their own remote office space and supplies. Clearly outline what can be expensed and the process for reimbursement requests.

Step #8: Develop attendance and leave policies 

This step involves aligning carryover vacation, sick days, and holiday policies from the office environment to remote work. Be sure to define procedures for requesting and reporting time off.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll have a comprehensive remote work policy that protects your business and established transparent guidelines for remote employees. Now, it’s time to implement this policy. 

Implementing your remote work policy

Here are some best practices for effectively implementing a remote work policy in your organization:

  1. Promote well in advance: Send out the policy and circulate any supporting FAQs at least 2-4 weeks before the effective start date. Ensure all employees and managers are educated on the guidelines and requirements.
  2. Pilot with specific teams: Consider introducing remote arrangements on a pilot basis with particular departments first. Learn what’s working and what needs refinement before company-wide adoption.
  3. Train managers first: Provide additional training workshops focused on overseeing remote teams, setting objectives and KPIs, monitoring productivity, and fostering engagement and inclusiveness for dispersed staff. Online courses can be a great way of training and giving them any necessary material about managing employees. 
  4. Check technology readiness: Audit infrastructure like VPN bandwidth, access to collaboration platforms like Slack/Zoom, and security protocols to confirm they align with policy needs at scale. If necessary, upgrade to support complete workforce connectivity.
  5. Open feedback channels: Encourage inputs through pulse surveys, focus groups, and 1-on-1 conversations on what policies employees find too restrictive or too ambiguous as they navigate remote work.

Involving staff in shaping successful remote operations while ensuring supportive infrastructure is in place enables smoother adoption and consistently reinforces your organization’s policy over the long term.

Utilizing tools for policy enforcement

Managing a remote team can seem daunting. Luckily, tools like Hubstaff and other workforce management software are invaluable in helping you enforce and manage the critical aspects of your remote work policies.

Hubstaff homepage hero image

Here are a few things Hubstaff can help remote teams with:

  • Time tracking. Hubstaff is a comprehensive time tracking tool for remote teams. The second you start tracking, time tracking data populates detailed timesheets. Hybrid and remote teams can track time in the office, at home, or on the go. 
  • Payroll management. Use employee timesheets to pay teams with built-in payment features. Or, choose one of your favorite payment integrations to process payroll.
  • Activity levels. Hubstaff calculates real-time activity levels for employees and presents information to managers in an intuitive dashboard. 
  • Productivity Insights. Manage your team and fight burnout with the Insights add-on. As a manager, you can access detailed productivity metrics, like performance trends and industry benchmarks, to simplify workload management.
Hubstaff hours worked widget

While Hubstaff doesn’t enforce policies directly, its employee activity metrics arm managers with better visibility and insights to ensure adherence. 

Setting clearly defined “healthy” productivity thresholds and goals upfront aligns remote staff with policy expectations. The data can prompt action plans to correct any non-compliance through coaching.

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you that, regardless of the type of policy you’re creating, it’s essential to understand the legal and ethical aspects. 

Here are some fundamental legal and ethical considerations when constructing remote work policies for your organization:

  1. Fair labor standards: Ensure remote work compensation, hours tracking, and overtime rules comply with local, state, and federal labor regulations for nonexempt employees.
  2. Accommodation obligations: Build in some flexibility to reasonably accommodate disabilities as mandated by specific laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act. Refusal may constitute discrimination.
  3. Leave entitlements: Policies around sick, caregiving, and family medical leave must align with what an employee would be entitled to if working on-site so employer compliance is maintained.
  4. Health and safety duties: Outline in your policy how you will meet occupational health and safety responsibilities to home workers through assessments, work platform provisions, and injury reporting procedures.
  5. Expenses and tax transparency: Avoid compliance issues by being upfront in policies about reimbursements considered taxable income. Proactively outline employer-reported taxation obligations on remote stipends.

Understanding the laws and regulations for an entire dispersed team will take time. But naivety around regulations is unacceptable and unethical. If you’re unsure, seek expertise to ensure the integrity of your policy.

Wrap up

Here’s a quick summary of what is outlined in this guide on creating an effective remote work policy: 

  • First, align leadership on guiding principles – whether it’s boosting diversity hiring, sustaining collaboration, or accommodating family needs. 
  • Then, define standards for core remote work elements like eligibility, expected availability, work hours, and locations – balancing business needs with flexibility. 
  • Next, address technology access and security to enable productivity and outline expenses covered if remote teams furnish their own office spaces.
  • Then, get remote managers invested early with comprehensive discussions and training. Once managers are up to speed, send information to employees to learn about your new remote policy.
  • Finally, routinely evaluate quantitative indicators and qualitative feedback on where remote policies are falling short so you can reinforce what’s working. 

Are you ready to implement a remote work policy in your organization? By now, we’re confident you have the template, tools, and information you need to pull this off successfully. 

Category: Remote