Due to the surge of COVID cases and the COVID vaccine mandates (which are likely to only apply to in-person employees), many employers are considering keeping their staff remote or returning them to remote work. The key to successfully supervising remote workers is to develop a comprehensive telework policy to the employee handbook. MP’s HR services team shares why remote work employee policies are so critical to an organization’s success and HR compliance. This article also outlines guidelines for writing optimized telework policies for any staff handbook.
Why employers need a telework policy in their employee handbook right now
Working remotely decreases COVID risks, but it may increase other risks for an employer. A telework policy resolves most of these concerns. It will reduce inefficiency and miscommunications among employees, managers, and clients or customers. A comprehensive telework policy outlines procedures for meetings, asking questions, scheduling, responding to client inquiries, and more. When employers articulate these procedures, their staff can perform to a higher standard. (It’s also easier to discipline them and help them improve if they don’t meet expectations.) Additionally, everyone in the organization, including customers and clients, will be less likely to report missed connections or miscommunications.
A remote work policy also helps mitigate the risk of two damaging problems: cyberattacks and payroll compliance concerns. Cyberattacks, besides devastating organizations, are also prevalent. Many businesses experience severe consequences for their bottom lines after a cyberattack, with some even shutting down completely. Per a report in Cybercrime Magazine, organizations worldwide lost over $6 trillion due to cyberattacks in 2020. In a year with a challenging economy like 2021, a cyberattack can be particularly detrimental. Payroll compliance issues are also particularly costly for employers—financially, in terms of company morale, and potentially legally. When non-exempt employees don’t record all hours worked, employers are at risk for penalties and back pay (which can be costly), if not legal action from unpaid employees. Owing back pay or becoming entangled in payroll compliance issues often tarnishes the employer brand and company culture.
Best practices for developing a telework policy for an employee handbook
An optimized telework policy should include these sections:
- How employees deliver work.
- How meetings are conducted, including what technologies are used and expectations for camera utilization, dress code on camera, etc.
- General scheduling procedures and expected hours.
- The technologies employees at the organization use, as well as to whom and how employees should report their issues with equipment or software.
- Expectations for employee availability and response time to questions from managers, clients, customers, teammates, etc.
- Expectations for cyber safety, such as requiring a password to log into the laptop, working only on secure networks, and never opening spam emails.
- Inclement weather procedures, including whether employees working remotely must still work if the headquarters must close due to inclement weather.
Employers should include the telework policy in their employee handbook. They may share it separately if it’s developed significantly later after they share the updated handbook. If it’s shared separately, the telework policy should include an acknowledgment page. Employees will sign it, and then the employer will keep it on record.
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