At least 45% of full-time American workers spend some time working remotely and approximately 60% of workers cited productivity as one of the major reasons they prefer remote or hybrid work. Telework, which grew substantially since 2020, will likely continue and business will implement fully remote or hybrid workplaces.
Having policies that clearly govern working from home should be part of business formation and planning. These policies can inform employees about acceptable behavior, help assure fair treatment, promote efficiency, and may prevent legal problems. An effective policy addresses specific considerations.
Setting forth eligibility is an important first step. Employers need to consider whether a workers’ attitude, work ethic and personality meet the company’s telework expectations.
Objective requirements can involve the duties of the position, the length of time the employee worked at the business, their current role, past performance and how often a worker can telework. Policies need to address any time restrictions on telework, working from the office requirements and who makes eligibility decisions.
Businesses need to trust their employees on the number of hours they work and accommodate family schedules and obligations. But employers must also set clear expectations.
Remote workers should be available during office hours, meet deadlines, competently complete assignments, and maintain communication with co-workers and supervisors. Having a quiet and private home workstation that reduces distractions is important.
Employers also need clear policies on the revocation of work-at-home privileges if there is abuse, workers are not working required hours and goals are unmet.
Remote workers need equipment that fulfills ergonomic requirements. Policies should assure that employer-supplied equipment should be used only for work-related purposes.
Remote work requires security measures:
- Corporate data and computers should also have safeguards against breaches or hacking.
- All business devices should be password protected.
- Data needs to be encrypted.
- There must be an inventory of all devices.
- GPS tracking should be activated.
- Devices should have technology that erases data if the device is lost or stolen.
Employers also need to assure, because their employees are working at different locations, that they comply with the appropriate wage and hour, workers’ compensation, tax, and other employment laws. Employers who use employee monitoring equipment must comply with federal and state laws, collective bargaining agreements and employment contracts.
Attorneys can help assure compliance with employment laws. They can also protect rights in legal actions.