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Does an employer need a remote work policy?
  • Before implementing remote work, drafting a policy is essential.

While many organizations quickly pivoted employees to remote working temporarily in 2020, experts agree that a permanent switch to remote working should not be implemented casually. Top management support is critical. If the company wants to reap the benefits telecommuting offers, the first step is to put a policy in place. Before drafting a policy, consider the following:

  • Which positions are suitable?
    • Both exempt and nonexempt positions may be appropriate for remote working. The best potential telecommuting positions are those that require individuals to work independently, have little need for face-to-face interaction, entail concentration, and can be managed by output, not time spent on the job.
  • Who is eligible?
    • Policies often dictate how long employees must be at a job before becoming eligible, and also how well they must perform to maintain the privilege.
  • How will employees be selected?
    • If a number of individuals express interest in working remotely, but only a limited number can be accommodated, the policy should outline the selection criteria, taking into account non-discrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • What kind of schedule will remote employees keep?
    • Some policies allow for telecommuting only on certain days of the week and require employees to be available during core business hours.
  • How will timekeeping be done?
    • The requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (as it pertains to overtime, for example) apply to nonexempt remote workers.
  • Who will provide equipment?
    • The policy should address whether the company will provide a computer, for example, or pay for internet service.
  • How will the employee safeguard company information?
    • Security—electronic and physical (locked filing cabinets)—is critical for any off-site location. Make sure remote employees have a secure internet connection.
  • How will technology support be provided?
    • The policy should address what type of technical support, if any, the company will provide to off-site employees.