The Polar Vortex currently has a large portion of the United States under frigid temperatures and snowfall that some areas haven’t experienced in a generation or more. With extended school closings, governments declaring states of emergency, suspended mail delivery, highway traffic pile-ups and more, to say it’s been a challenge to get to work is a *vast* understatement. Many employers have already adopted remote work policies. Others have not, whether recruitment firms or the employers you serve. While you may not want to move to a “mostly” or “always” remote workforce, it may very well make sense to consider a policy for unusual situations.
Things to consider when developing remote work policies for recruitment firms include:
- Nature of the work being done. Recruitment for the most part really *can* be done from anywhere. Jobs in a production environment or that are customer-facing, are less adaptable to being done remotely.
- Tools needed for the job. Do you provide tools and/or infrastructure to facilitate remote work? For example, laptops or VoIP phones? Cloud-based access to software, documents, and other needs? Does your business need a VPN for employees to access documents on an internal network? If your employees are working at home on their personal devices (computers, mobile phones, printers, etc.) is there an accommodation for their costs of using those devices? What about their home wifi? Are employees in the habit of bringing their tools and equipment home on a daily basis?
- Insurance. How are remote workers covered under your business insurance policy? What about their devices? If there is theft, damage, or injury, who is responsible for covering those costs?
- When is remote work acceptable? Be as clear as you can about your expectations. Bad weather? Child care interruptions or school closings? Is it OK on a regular basis, or only for an “emergency”? If the latter, how will you define the emergency and/or how much latitude will your employee have to make that determination? Allowing people to work remotely can save on lost productivity, so it’s worth considering at least for certain circumstances.
- Communication. If your recruitment firm will be closed, or closing early, who will make that decision? How will it be communicated to customers and employees alike? Will some have to stay for a defined period of time? How will customers be able to reach you?
- Interaction with coworkers. If people are working remotely, how will they stay in touch with teammates or others in the company? Email can work, but it’s not as fast or as personal as face-to-face or telephone interaction. Have you invested in videoconferencing technology to allow remote workers to more fully participate in meetings?
- Pay and attendance. In the event you are paying people on an hourly basis or have an attendance policy meant to minimize absences, make sure your remote work policy is not in conflict with your other policies.
Taking the time in advance to develop a remote work policy ensures you are ready before the next emergency strikes. There has been a 115% increase since 2005 in the number of employees who work remotely at least half the time. If you do not currently allow remote work, why not? If remote work is already part of your culture, what have been the biggest challenges to overcome? Please share your comments below.