Working Remotely

Robin Noah
Robin Noah
The option to work outside the office is a dream come true for employees who want better working options, however, managing remote employees can quickly become a boss’s worst nightmare. Remote working, telecommuting, flexible working – thanks to the wonders of technology, is increasingly finding new ways to get the job done. The ability to telecommute, whether full time or on occasion, has become an increasingly common workplace perk. In fact, according to one Gallup study 43.

It has been said that allowing people to work from home attracts and retains top talent in a competitive market, but there are factors to consider.

1. Eligibility: One of the first things any employer needs to consider when deciding on a remote work assignment is whether the employees’ attitudes, work ethics and personalities align with the company’s expectations of telecommuting. Managers should accommodate on a case-by-case basis keeping in mind what’s best for the company, its team members and the project at hand.  Sometimes looking at the employees profile will give the best clue when looking for candidates or responding to a request.

Take some time  to cover all areas of remote working and create a job description that includes the nature of the position, how long a person has been at the position, past job performance and how frequently a staff member can telecommute, i.e., full time, once a week, etc.

2. Expectations:  For geographically dispersed teams, or in cases where remote work helps, accommodation for family schedules and obligations, official “business hours” may vary from person to person.  However, regardless of their work hours, employees also need to be held accountable for their assigned jobs. “It is important to provide very specific remote work guidelines and policies for employees to review and acknowledge in a telecommuting arrangement.

Workers who do not meet these expectations risk losing the trust of leadership and sidelining their team. Minimum considerations:

  • Clear expectations with employees
  • Adhering to company expectations
  • Available during office hours
  • Meet deadlines and complete projects with excellence
  • Maintain communication with their manager and co-workers.

Other concerns that may be addressed

  • Security of company owned equipment
  • Accountability and visibility
  • Security – both physical, and digital
  • Maintaining boundaries between work life and home life

3. Equipment and Cybersecurity

Enabling employees to work remotely opens up the likelihood that they’ll use their work devices to communicate via unsecured public networks. Password-protect all business devices; make sure that data going out from those devices is encrypted. Keep a current inventory of all devices and make sure each one has its GPS tracking turned on. Additionally, install technology to remotely wipe data from any device that has been lost or stolen.”

4. Communication methods: With the appropriate use of communications technology, companies can also ensure their culture remains intact, even with full-time telecommuters.  It’s wise to explicitly state that remote work is a privilege that can be revoked if it’s discovered that an employee is not meeting his or her expectations while working outside the office.

This article is informational. Please see a labor law attorney for any questions you may have.

Author: Robin Noah, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org