Remote Work Arrangements: Top Five Tools
Thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, many employers and employees have been thrust into the world of remote work without time to prepare. Below are our HR Consultant Mosteller & Associates’ Top Five Tools to have when navigating remote work arrangements:
1. Technical Tools
The current upsurge in remote work came on us all quickly. Make sure that you are doing all you can to ensure data security and confidentiality. Leverage your IT resources to strengthen things like browser privacy, password management, backup processes, secure Wi-Fi, proper firewalls, encryption and whatever else is needed to protect your data. If your employees are using non-agency hardware, make sure it is compatible with your systems and “blessed” by your IT resources.
2. Clear (and reasonable) expectations
It’s probably safe to say that, right now, we’re all a bit confused. By defining and communicating expectations, you can help to clear away at least some confusion for yourself and your employees. Make sure to cover the job-specific information (“what” work gets done) and also your expectations around “how” work gets done.
On the “what” side – Are expectations different right now? Priorities may have shifted. Some work may not even be on the list right now. Many jobs are currently focused only on those things that are “mission critical.” Make sure you clearly define and communicate this.
On the “how” side of things, there are a number of items to consider. What are the expectations around work schedule, availability, workspace, etc…? Many remote employees work outside the traditional 9 – 5 workday. Is this OK or not? When do you expect the employee to be “available” and how? Maybe it’s OK for them to get the work done whenever it suits them, but you also need them to be “available” to take a call from you or co-workers during certain core hours. Make these expectations clear (but also refer to 4. below).
Managers who are new to remote work may feel like they need to monitor employees very closely to ensure that work really gets done. Are they right?
Now isn’t the time to micromanage your employees (honestly, that’s never the right approach to management but that’s a topic for another time). Communicate expectations and measure results. While many of us feel more capable of doing this when we can “see” our employees, the truth is, seeing should not always be believing. Know what you expect, communicate those expectations to your employees and measure performance against those expectations.
During “normal” times, remote workers are expected to have a dedicated workspace away from noise and distraction, a defined work schedule, etc…. While it’s good to have a set of expectations about what and how work gets done (see answer to number 2. above), during this time of uncertainty, it’s important to be flexible and understanding. This is not a “business as usual” time. We’re all juggling – be mindful of this as you manage employees.
We’ve left the best for last. Now, as always, communication is key. It can’t be said enough: Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. During these uncertain times, we all need to hear familiar voices. Voices of assurance. Voices of clarity. Voices of guidance and reason. Be in touch with your employees. We have so many ways to do that these days. Make sure you’re not always relying on email to communicate. Make a call. Use video conferencing tools to bring your team together. Schedule a daily Zoom meeting with the team. Schedule regular individual check-in calls with each of your employees. It’s not even critical that you always have a specific topic or agenda. Check in to see how people are doing.
What else do you need?
Do you have a written remote work policy in place? Have your employees signed a remote work agreement? As with most things, it’s best to have a written policy that clearly communicate the details associated with the remote work arrangement and to have employees who are participating sign to show that they have read and understand the policy. Remote work policies typically will provide details around some of the following items: Is this an ongoing or temporary arrangement? What are the schedule and availability expectations? What are the expectations around workspace and equipment? What about safety issues in the home workspace? How will data security be ensured? How should time be tracked (especially important for non-exempt employees)?
Mosteller & Associates disclaimer – This is not a legal document nor should it be considered legal advice. When appropriate please contact your legal counsel for relevant issues. document is intended only to share best practices and provide clarity to our current and prospective client base regarding existing and emerging requirements under the law or agency policies. The contents do not represent the opinion of Mosteller & Associates except to the extent that it relates to their official business.
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