Remote Working Guide

Remote Working

The Guide to Remote Working

What does working remotely mean? It means your employee does their job from home where they communicate by phone, email and video.
Remote Working

Work From Home Tips

We’ve put together this remote toolkit to help you manage your remote employees effectively. This will be especially helpful if you’ve moved your operations remotely for the first time or are recently overseeing a team working virtual jobs from home. Small business insurance may play a part in your transition.

Employers Who Manage Remote Workers

More and more companies are allowing their employees to work remotely. There are definitely pros and cons to working from home, and in today’s society, many would say the good outweighs the bad. In fact, a recent survey even suggests that younger generations are leading a widespread move toward remote work from home
As your company makes this switch, you’ll want to know all the best tips for managing remote employees. Start by looking into the benefits of remote working and the perks of offering virtual work to your employees. Understand why employees might prefer to work from home, while making sure to still establish a structure they follow when they’re not in the office. Remember, it’s your job to help them understand how to work remotely, while still being successful in their day to day tasks.

Benefits of Remote Working

For Employers:
  • Increases your employees’ productivity
  • Access to a larger pool of job candidates
  • Improved employee engagement
  • Quicker recoveries after a business interruption or natural disaster
For Employees:
  • Less or no commuting
  • A better balance between personal and professional lives
  • Flexible opportunities to relocate or live in desirable locations

Best Practices for Creating a Work From Home Employee Policy Handbook

Managing remote employees can be a learning process. You’ll have to figure out the best way to communicate with them, track their progress and manage their tasks. Businesses know there are liabilities of letting employees work from home, but establishing an employee handbook they can follow can make all the difference. Be sure to include these key components in yours:
Performance: Maintaining high performance levels is essential for any remote work program. To do this, you’ll want to set-up goals and expectations. You should continually communicate about objectives, standards, deliverables and time frames for your projects. You’ll also need to continue a normal performance review schedule. We also recommend that you write down your policies on a “Remote Work Statement of Expectations” document. You can then have your employees and their manager sign it to show that everyone is in agreement.
Success: Your remote workers should have skills and qualities like:
  • Self-motivation
  • Discipline to work during expected hours
  • Strong time management skills
  • The ability to meet deadlines
  • A basic understanding of technology
  • The flexibility to learn new processes and adapt to change
To help your employees work their best, you should provide coaching and training. Use online resources and/or webinars to give them access to the tools they need.
Absences: It’s important that you set clear guidelines and policies for your remote workers time-off. If your company offers paid time off (PTO), vacation periods or sick leave with benefits, you’ll need a document that outlines:
  • How and when your employees can request time off
  • When they can use leave for illness
  • Your approval process of absence requests
If your company relies on tracking your employees’ availability, you’ll want to develop a written plan that goes over your standard work hours based on each person’s role. For hourly remote workers, you’ll need a way to record their time to make sure you’re following the federal wage laws.
You’ll also need to establish a company policy that explains steps to take if a technical problem stops your remote worker from doing their job. This is especially important for hourly employees.
Communication: In order to run a successful remote work program, you’ll want to use a variety of communication methods like:
  • Sending brief status updates via email
  • Asking questions and checking in over instant messenger
  • Scheduling virtual meetings or conference calls to discuss projects
  • Emailing business updates in a regular newsletter
  • Asking complex questions via phone or virtual meeting
It’s important to use different communication tools as you share certain information. This chart can help you determine the most ideal way to communicate with your remote employees.

How to Appropriately Communicate:

  • Provide a brief status update → Email
  • Ask a simple question → Instant message or text message (via employer approved device)
  • Project or business discussions → Virtual meeting or conference call
  • Business updates → Email with a written attachment or newsletter
  • Asking a complex question or requesting guidance requiring lengthy back and forth discussion → Phone call or virtual meeting
  • Connect briefly with staff as a “check-in” → Instant message or text message (via employer approved device)

Setting Up Your Employees' Remote Working Space

When it comes to managing remote employees, making sure they each have a good setup at home is crucial. Most work from home tips say that creating a designated area as a work station is important. That’s because establishing an at-home office setting can drastically impact how productive and successful an employee is when working remote. Work from home spaces require the right tools, so be sure your employees have what they need to do their jobs, supplying them with office equipment like:
  • Phones or headsets
  • Laptops or desktops
  • Keyboards and a mouse
  • Routers
  • Printers/scanners
  • Shredders
They’ll also need ergonomic workspaces to avoid carpel tunnel and other repetitive stress injuries. Having the right office furniture, like arm chairs with height and armrest adjustments, will help this. Consider offering assistance in delivering and setting up ergonomic furniture for your remote workers.
Another important concern when setting up remote workers is their business mail. Although more communication goes out by email, you may still need regular mail too. Consider how business letters will reach your remote workers, especially when coming from a customer, vendor or third party. In most cases, you can use an employee’s home address or a local P.O. Box.
Managing Remote Employees

Remote Working Organization Tips

Creating a designated workstation can help remote work from home employees stay focused.
  1. Make sure desks have enough space to store supplies
  2. Keep frequently used items like notebooks and pens within reach
  3. Store non-essential supplies out of sight
  4. Use a desk organizer to arrange frequently used supplies
  5. Set up bookshelves and cabinets to store non-confidential materials

Remote Working Safety Tips

Even though your employees may not be in your physical presence, managing remote employees still includes focusing on their safety.
Share these general practices with them to make sure they’re maintaining a safe workspace:
  1. Secure loose cords and keep stairs, hallways and walkways clear.
  2. Close drawers after use.
  3. Never use rolling swivel chairs or ladders to reach overhead items. 
  4. Use the right lifting techniques. Center yourself over the load, bend your knees, keep the item you’re lifting close to your body between mid-thigh and mid-chest height, avoid twisting and divide heavy amounts into small ones.
  5. Never carry anything that blocks your vision.
  6. Install carbon monoxide detectors.
  7. Childproof your office if small children, babies or pets are in your home.
  8. Keep equipment away from water sources.
Be sure your remote workers are also following these fire safety guidelines:
  1. Do not overload electrical circuits and avoid using extension cords.
  2. Use surge protectors for your equipment.
  3. Have a multi-purpose fire extinguisher within easy access.
  4. Avoid keeping hot plates or coffee pots within the office area.
  5. Don’t get distracted by doing multiple tasks that involve fire risks, like cooking while working.
  6. Avoid using space heaters for warmth in your home office.
  7. Make sure office set-ups don’t block escape routes from the home.
  8. Ensure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
Work from home policy employee handbook

Best Practices For Managing Video Conferences

Video conferences will happen daily when you have employees working virtual jobs from home. That’s why it’s important to establish rules that everyone can follow to make sure your meetings go smoothly.
To manage these meetings successfully:
  • Always be on time
  • Prepare your slides and visuals beforehand
  • Mute yourself when you’re not speaking to reduce background noise
  • Test your technology ahead of time
You also might want to establish ground rules for your video meeting, including:
  • Which tools and applications you’ll use
  • When/how to speak in turn
  • How you’ll use chat in the call
  • Best practices for managing kids in the background

Establishing Remote Working Rules for Digital Communications

Having a list of rules in place for video conferencing and internal messaging can help as you’re managing remote employees. Since your company may be dealing with an unexpected situation that has forced your employees to now have virtual jobs from home, it’s good for them to know what the rules are as they navigate this new territory of how to work remotely. Consider writing these rules out to share them with your team.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic is a good example of how businesses must adjust to unforeseen circumstances. Countless companies switched their operations from in-house to remote work from home within just a few weeks. To make transitions like these smooth, documenting the collaboration tools you use in your company ahead of time is key. These often include:
  • SharePoint
  • Slack
  • WebEx
  • Google Docs
Incorporating instant messaging into your business is also important as you switch to remote working. This helps give your employees an easy way to continually engage and communicate with each other. It can also help as you manage remote employees, allowing you to quickly see when your workers are available or offline.

Remote Telecommuting Worker Compliance, Technology & Information Security

Data security and privacy are critical to the success of any business. That’s why it’s important to have a work from home policy employee handbook that goes over these topics:
  1. Protecting work from non-authorized employees like family members
  2. Following network security standards
  3. Password protecting portable devices
  4. Using cybersecurity software and multi-factor authentication guidance
On top of this, you’ll need to include a procedure for technical issues that includes:
  • Who to contact
  • The best method for communication such as phone, email or instant message
  • Which hours of the day technical support is available

Maintaining Mental Health and Wellness While Working Remotely

Employees have to get used to a new environment when working remotely, meaning they’re facing a life-style change that can come with health concerns. For your employees that have recently transitioned to virtual jobs from home, discuss how they will care for themselves and their family while doing so.
You’ll also want to decide if you should structure your employees’ work hours and breaks to help them avoid burnout. One option may be offering remote workers a more flexible schedule that allows them to work around their responsibilities.
Work From Home Tips for Staying Healthy

Work From Home Tips for Staying Healthy

Be sure your employees know that their mental health and wellness comes first. Encourage them to:
  • Take time to get away from the computer
  • Eat healthy and stay hydrated during the day
  • Schedule time for exercise to improve energy and focus levels

Managing Remote Employees

Leadership and employee engagement can be difficult no matter where the work is taking place. There is no magic formula for how to work remotely or how to manage employees working virtual jobs from home, but as you continue to do it, you’ll learn what works best for your team. You’ll most likely find that to manage remote employees, keeping them involved as much as possible will be critical. Learn more strategies for this by listening to podcasts or watching educational videos on:
  • Team building
  • Recognition and rewards
  • Helping employees adjust to working remotely
  • Leading through change
One thing to be sure to consider when managing remote employees is to make the remote working more enjoyable. You can do this by putting time on the calendar that isn’t focused solely on work. Engage with your employees by scheduling virtual coffee breaks or one-on-one video meetings. Keep things light and upbeat by planning time in the day for a break where you can try virtual team-building activities. The one thing to remember as you navigate this new phase of managing an off-site virtual workforce is to be patient with yourself – and with your team.
How to Manage Remote Virtual Employees

Business Insurance for Remote Workers

For more than 200 years, businesses have trusted The Hartford. We can help you get the right coverage for your remote employees.
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