This post is the third in a three-part series on remote work and telecommuting in Malta. In the first article of this three-part series, we looked at seven emerging trends in remote working in Malta. The second article focused on some concerns and practical tips with the increase in teleworking. This article will look what you need to draft an effective remote working policy.
While many businesses have been scrambling to draw up remote working policies in order to ensure that they are able to operate during the Covid pandemic, our experience is that in the rush of the moment, some have omitted some of the finer points of these practices resulting in situations that crop up later and then need to be resolved. We summarise all this experience in 7 key points that need to be considered for an effective remote working policy.
1. Who is eligible to work remotely?
This may actually seem obvious and clear, yet it is good practise to immediately indicate and clarify in your remote working policy, which jobs/roles (not individuals) are eligible to work remotely. It may be summarised that when considering remote working, individual jobs fall in into 3 broad categories:
- There are those jobs that can be done completely remotely
- There are those jobs that cannot be done remotely
- Then there are those jobs that can be done partially remotely
It is recommended that when drafting a remote working policy, the different types of jobs should be classified into such or similar categories, so that it is clear who may be eligible for remote working or not.
2. Approval process of remote working
The policy should also clarify the application and approval process for remote working. Some points to consider:
- Will approval come automatically with listed jobs/roles and will it be regulated by a general policy or will each remote working request be processed through an application procedure?
- Should the remote working decision be managed centrally by Human Resources, or should Human Resources provide the framework and let individual department managers, manage the process?
A possible solution may be to have a hybrid approach with Human Resources assisting department managers with handling the process however this depends on the organisation structure and culture.
3. Set a right for revocation of remote working eligibility in case circumstances change
An important point to clarify in your policy is that the company reserves the right to change the remote working policy as per company needs and requirements. If this is not clarified, employees will perceive that this is a permanent condition of employment and may not want to retract from it.
4. Define how often employees can work remotely
For some roles it may be possible to work from home all the working hours. Most employers have applied a flexible approach and allow employees to work remotely most days. However, in Malta, as discussed in our previous article, during Covid 19 several employers have opted for a rostering process of remote working. The objective here is to balance the number of employees at the office, with those working from home. Whatever option you go for, it is important that the policy defines remote working days and options for each type of role in the organisation.
5. Define from where employees can work remotely
As we have discussed in article two of this series, there are several issues with data security and business/client confidentiality that need to be taken into consideration. It will be good to include in your remote working policy, some guidelines to guide employees from where it is acceptable to work. For example, will remote working be only allowed from private residences? Are cafeterias and other public places acceptable? Will you allow your employees to hold teleconference meetings in public places? Will they be allowed to make use of public Wi-Fi?
6. Working hours or availability to work
It is recommended that the remote working policy highlights the expected working hours whilst employees are working remotely. Usually working hours are included in the employment contract but remote working gives rise to more possibilities and to flexible approaches to working hours. The decision here is whether to have remote employees working strictly to office hours or whether you want to create a time window, example between 07.00 and 19.00 during which the eight-hour working day can be covered. Some organisations have found it useful to apply a mix of core hours and other acceptable periphery hours. The importance of clarifying the core working hours is to facilitate communication and responsiveness such that urgent matters are addressed within the desired timeframes.
Finally, an uncomfortable but important subject to include in the remote working policy. In the policy it is good practice to include a section to note that the company reserves the right to monitor productivity. This includes monitoring by tracking software.
These 7 points highlight the most important aspects to consider when drawing up a remote working policy in order to ensure that both the employer and employee are protected in the process. As always the key to a successful policy is clarity and fairness and this goes a long way to strengthen the relationship of trust between employer and employee. Should you require any more information or should you require any assistance in discussing or drawing up your Remote Working policy please feel free to reach out to us.