Issues to Consider in Developing eWork Policy post COVID-19 Restrictions
Many businesses are now considering whether to continue with remote working as and when COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed. As those considering introducing remote work policy appear – for the most part – to prefer the hybrid option, these annotated Guidelines have been developed on that basis. Hope you find them helpful!
The company’s e-work policy will largely depend on its long-term objectives in introducing the policy. Common objectives are to:
- Retain experienced staff
- Reduce commuting and carbon footprint
- Reduce real estate overheads
- Access specialist skills
- Expand its talent pool
The assessment of e-work viability/potential within an organisation will usually include involvement of Management, the Human Resources Department, I.T. and Health and Safety personnel.
Obviously, the specifics of eWork policy will vary from business to business, however, the following issues should be considered in formulating workable policy.
Proposed targets for e-working within the organisation
- targeted percentage or number of employees who will e-work
- department/function specific e-work
- task related e-working, for example for report writing/research
- basis on which they will e-work e.g. fully remote, hybrid i.e. 2/3 days a week in the office and the others remotely
Job Assessment Criteria
Note: in general, at least 40 per cent of associated tasks should suit remote working
Employee Assessment Criteria
Note: Remote workers should be capable of working independently without close supervision, reliable, committed to achieving results, good communicators (particularly when problems arise).
Some organisations prefer remote workers to have a minimum number of years’ experience.
SUPPORT of Manager/Team Leader
Best results are achieved when the Manager/Team Leader are supportive of the remote working proposition. Of course, Managers/Team Leaders may themselves be suited to remote working.
Availability of Suitable Workspace
In the home working scenario, the employee ideally needs to have a suitable private, dedicated workspace
If based in a co-working hub, it is important to ensure that confidentiality can be safeguarded, particularly in the layout is open plan.
It is important that adequate broadband is available in in the off-site place of work. Requirements will depend on the specifics of the job and will usually be assessed by the I.T. Department.
Provision of Equipment
The employer must ensure that employees have all the equipment required to do their jobs. This is likely to include :
- PC/laptop and peripherals – adequately large screen – or screens – is/are required
- Ergonomically sound desk and chair
- Mobile phone – if sometimes mobile
- Broadband connectivity
Note: Where, for example, home office furniture and broadband are already in place, the e-worker may agree to – or even prefer – to use what is already in place. If additional costs are incurred e.g. from increased use of broadband due to the e-working arrangement it is normal that the employer reimburse for such expenses. The employer will be responsible for easily identifiable costs such as a work specific mobile phone and usage.
See also Tech Tools which are tried and tested, and cost effective, for remote teams. These are examples only – there’s an ever increasing range of collaborative tools out there.
Contribution towards home office overheads
The employer may agree to contribute towards the overheads associated with home working but is under no obligation to do so. Please check my E-work and Tax page for information.
Home office set up
Agreement should be in place as to who is responsible for actually setting up/arranging the home office. In some cases the employer or his/her agent actually physically sets up the home office, with the consent of the employee.
Alternatively, the employee may undertake to set up the office/work space for subsequent inspection by the employer.
Home office inspection
Employees working from home have a responsibility to take reasonable care of themselves and other people who may be affected by the work they are doing.
However, responsibility for health and safety at work rests ultimately with the employer even when the employee is working remotely. Employers have a duty of care to all employees and employer must – in so far as is reasonably practicable – ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all employees.
A Risk Assessment must be carried out and signed off by employer and employee. This is a very important area which is outlined on my Health and Safety post. Please click here for essential information and a Home Office Checklist.
The employer should ensure that their insurance cover applies to all equipment in home offices and in transit.
Employer’s Liability insurance should also apply in the home office/hub.
Obviously employees should also ensure that all equipment owned by them personally are also adequately insured.
CONNECTIVITY/ACCESS TO i.T. nETWORK
As always, needs will vary from business to business and job to job. But here are the likely minimum requirements.
- Secure access to company server/data
- IT systems must provide appropriate access from the offsite place of work.
The I.T. Department will usually take the lead here.
- E-workers must protect passwords
- Keep all work-related data in a safe secure place
- Have a clear understanding of and respect all GDPR provisions
Buddy/Key contact protocol
Consider implementing a Buddy/Key Contact protocol so that they remote worker has a specific person from whom they can seek advice if and when difficulties arise. This system can short circuit the problem to solution cycle, particularly at the early stages of remote working.
The “buddy” can of course also be a remote worker.
Provision of eWork/Remote Work Contract
Policy should include the provision of an eWork contract. Please click here for further details.
Access to training
The employer must ensure that e-workers have equal access to training as their office-based colleagues.
Managers and team leaders may also require training in remote management.
How and when this will be carried out.
Access to Promotion(s):
E-workers will have the same access to promotional opportunities as their office-based colleagues. A promotion may affect the e-working arrangement depending on the nature of the new job.
Termination of the e-work contract
Policy should reflect the circumstances in which the e-work contract can be terminated by agreement or by the employer
The above outlines the main areas for consideration in developing e-work/remote work policy. They are, by the nature of these Guidelines, stated in general terms. If you need help/advice with specifics, I will be happy to help. Just e-mail me here and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Thank you. Riona